Exactly a year after it told the Jain community to rein in its “vegetarian fanaticism”, the Shiv Sena has extended an olive branch to the community with municipal corporation elections round the corner.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray along with senior cabinet ministers Subhash Desai and Diwakar Raote paid a visit to senior Jain cleric Acharya Maharaj Vijay Premsurishwarji at the Breach Candy Hospital in the city.
The cleric is 97 years old and has been admitted to the hospital for the last two years.
Sena leaders said the meeting was a courtesy call to a figure who was revered in the community.
However, many see the visit as a reflection of the Sena’s softening stance vis-a vis the Jain community in view of the upcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls.
The Sena had earlier sent a message to the Gujarati community as well by putting up hoardings in Gujarati at Ghatkopar last week for a function to be attended by Uddhav Thackeray.
A year ago, the Sena had launched a scathing attack on the Jain community. In an editorial in the ‘Saamana’ in September 2015, the Sena had told Jains to rein in their fanaticism in terms of seeking a ban on sale of meat in the city.
Striking a belligerent tone, the Sena has said the Jain community’s financial empire could be turned to ashes in a matter of minutes and said unlike Muslims, they do not have a country like Pakistan to go to.
Jains are a small but influential business community and have been traditional supporters of the BJP.
With both the BJP and the Shiv Sena planning to wage an intense battle to take over exclusive control over the BMC, both parties are doing all that they can to win over prospective voters.