Even though an alliance between the BJP and the Shiv Sena is yet to be finalised, a group of BJP corporators from the city have said they would not support the campaign of Shrirang Barne, the sitting Sena MP from Maval, if he was fielded again.
The corporators met Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, who was in the city on Sunday, and complained about the conduct of Barne, accusing him of making personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders.
Gadkari is said to have listened to their concerns but did not give any assurance to them. The BJP corporators, including Eknath Pawar, former Deputy Mayor Shailaja More, Eknath Dhake and Shital Shinde, submitted a memorandum to Gadkari, complaining that Barne had been attacking Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, and others, and therefore, they were completely opposed to his candidature. “He has made personal attacks on the PM and the CM. And therefore, none of the BJP corporators are in a mood to support his campaign,” Pawar said.
On Monday, Barne hit out at BJP leaders who were against his candidature. “I am a Shiv Sena MP and it is the Sena leadership that will decide whether or not I will contest again from Maval. The BJP has nothing to do with this,” he told The Indian Express.
Without naming Laxman Jagtap, a BJP MLA and president of the party’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit who has been having a running feud with him for several years now, Barne said it was no secret who was trying to scuttle his chances of contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“I don’t have to say anything. Everyone knows the people behind this memorandum, people who are trying to make sure that I do not get a ticket,” Barne said.
In the 2014 elections, Barne had defeated Jagtap by a margin of 1.5 lakh votes. Jagtap had fought as an Independent candidate at that time. Later, he joined the BJP and was at the helm of affairs when the party won elections to the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) for the first time. The Sena’s tally was reduced to single digit. The two routinely make statements against each other. Sena’s Pimpri-Chinchwad president Yogesh Babar said Barne’s candidature from Maval had already been authorised by Uddhav Thackeray. “His candidature has been approved by our party chief. Therefore, whether an alliance with the BJP happens or not, we will work whole-heartedly for Barne and ensure his victory,” he said.
Alleging that there were several irregularities in allocation of contracts in BJP-run PCMC, Babar said the Sena will raise these issues in the coming elections and expose the wrong doings in the civic body.
Jagtap claimed he had nothing to do with the memorandum submitted by his party corporators to Gadkari. “I can’t help if they think I am behind the move to approach Gadkari. BJP workers and leaders will respond to Sena’s allegations,” he said.