In an apparent snub to its bickering alliance partner Shiv Sena which would be holding its annual Dussehra rally in Mumbai on Tuesday, BJP leader Ashish Shelar on Monday said his party’s focus will be on minister Pankaja Munde’s visit to Bhagwangad in Ahmednagar district.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to address the Sena rally at the Shivaji Park in Dadar on Tuesday in keeping with the practise started by his father late Bal Thackeray, who founded the party in 1966.
“Our attention is only on the Bhagwangad rally,” Shelar said.
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On the controversy between Pankaja and the Bhagwangad Trust head Namdevshastri Sanap, he said, “BJP is fully behind Pankaja Munde on this issue.”
A police official from Ahmednagar said police have issued notices to 400 people so far, asking them to ensure they did not indulge in any untoward act at the Bhagwangad rally.
Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde and the Vanjari community’s religious leader Namdevshastri have locked horns over the annual Dusshera rally at Bhagwangad, 60 kms from Beed.
Namdevshastri, who heads the Bhagwangad Trust, has decided that politicians should not be allowed to use the place of pilgrimage for political rallies or speeches, while Pankaja is apparently against the decision.
Separate audio clips, allegedly of both the leaders threatening suppoters of the other, have gone viral on social media.
Namdevshastri alleged a local resident had intimidated him on telephone.
Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde, who is Pankaja’s cousin, said, “The developments do not auger well for social harmony. When a minister supposed to ensure law and order tries to create problems, it is a cause of worry.”
The NCP leader recalled that the last time he went to offer prayers at Bhagwangad, he faced violent protests.