The Shiv Sena has decided to ally with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) rebel Shubash Velingkar to take on the BJP in the Goa Assembly polls scheduled for March 2017.
Velingkar was sacked by the RSS as the Goa unit chief on August 31, and has floated an independent organisation called RSS Goa Prant. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut Sunday held a two-hour meeting with him at a hotel in Goa.
Later, Raut also convened the local Sena unit’s meeting to discuss poll strategy.
A highly placed source in the Sena said, “Raut is in charge of the Goa unit of the Sena. Party president Uddhav Thackeray has given him the go-ahead to formulate the election strategy. The Sena wants to expand its organisational base beyond Maharashtra and wishes to exploit differences within the BJP-RSS towards this end. It believes rallying round the RSS rebel, who has kicked up a controversy on the emotive mother-tongue-in-schools issue, goes well with their politics.”
The BJP, however, downplayed its ally cosying up to a rebel. “The Sena is a non-player in Goa. Moreover, every party has the right to decide its own alliances,” a party leader said. In the 40-member Goa assembly, the BJP is the single largest party with 26 seats.
Velingkar has been engaged in a tussle with the BJP government over the issue of promoting regional languages such as Marathi and Konkani as the medium of instruction in schools.
He also wanted the state to withdraw grants to English medium institutions. The RSS and the BJP central leadership have dismissed Velingkar’s demand as non-practical and narrow.
A senior BJP leader said, “Velingkar’s rebellion on the language issue has dented the image of the RSS, as it was an instance of open defiance in a disciplined organisation.”