The Shiv Sena’s decision to oppose the Centre’s demonetisation move has irked its senior partner BJP, with many leaders saying this may sound the death knell for the parties’ alliance for the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls.
The Sena had Wednesday participated in a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan led by Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Banerjee against the demonetisation of old 500- and 1,000-rupee notes. “The Shiv Sena’s opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision is a pointer that our alliance partner is preparing to go it alone in the BMC elections. While every party has the right to choose what and when to protest, after this, even the central leaders may not display the same keenness for a pre-poll alliance with the Sena in the BMC,” a BJP functionary said.
Senior BJP leader Madhav Bhandari said the Sena had not opposed the decision as part of the government.
“The Shiv Sena is a part of the government both at the Centre and the state. The decision to demonetise the currency was taken at a Union cabinet meeting, in which the Sena too gave its consent.” He further argued, “There is a principle of collective responsibility in any democratic government. The Sena is choosing to shed it.” In Maharashtra, the BJP core team believes that the Sena’s renewed aggression is part of their strategy to play the role of Opposition while enjoying the fruits of power, a leader said.
A BJP cabinet minister said, “The Shiv Sena is diametrically opposite in its conduct within the government and in public. None of the Sena ministers have complained against policy decision at the state or the Centre. But when it comes to public meetings or street protests, the Sena adopts the role of the opposition. This policy is here to stay.”
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The BJP and the Sena had last month struck an alliance for elections to 212 local bodies at the eleventh hour. However, both sides admitted that the tie-up was shaky as many differences persisted.
A source in the BJP said, “The big question the Sena will have to face is whether they are willing to go solo in the BMC polls. Our national chief Amit Shah has always indicated that the BJP should prepare to contest the election on its own, as it would pave the way for us to create a base for the 2019 Assembly polls.”