Soon after the BJP formed the government in Maharashtra, the state unit of the party blamed the Shiv Sena and its MP Sanjay Raut for creating a rift between the two saffron allies and “misleading” the Sena.
Raut, a three-term Rajya Sabha MP and executive editor of Sena party mouthpiece Saamana, has been attacking the BJP since the Assembly poll results were announced on October 24. He has been addressing the media, giving interviews and meeting NCP leaders, besides writing editorials criticising the BJP and its leaders. He was, the Sena leaders said, the only party leader to put out its official stand in the past one month.
“Raut has been able to adjust himself with all Thackerays since the beginning. While he had a good rapport with Balasaheb Thackeray, he also enjoyed a good relation with Uddhav Thackeray and his estranged cousin Raj,” a Sena leader, not wishing to be named, said.
The Sena leader added that Raut was appointed as the executive editor of the party mouthpiece by Balasaheb in the early 1990s. “So, he knows Balasaheb’s stands on several issues as well as the Sena’s history,” the leader added.
On Saturday, BJP state president Chandrakant Patil said the Sena has insulted the mandate given to BJP-Sena grand alliance. “Raut should stop talking now. He has destroyed the Sena. It is surprising that Uddhavji is still not controlling him. The language of back-stabbing doesn’t suit Raut. They back-stabbed us from the day one,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Raut told reporters that NCP leader Ajit Pawar had stabbed the Sena in the back by joining hands with the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra. Raut also said the state will never forgive Ajit for this act of his.
“Ajit Pawar has stabbed the Shiv Sena in the back. Joining hands with the BJP to form the government is betrayal,” Raut said.
Senior BJP leader Girish Mahajan also accused Raut of misleading Uddhav Thackeray, Sena legislators and party workers. “He (Raut) has trampled the party’s honour. Entire Maharashtra has seen what Raut was saying for the past one month about the BJP and its central leadership, including (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi. It didn’t go well with the BJP. We feel that Raut should now learn to behave properly,” Mahajan said.
The state BJP leaders, including Fadnavis, however, sparingly criticised Uddhav Thackeray. “By criticising Raut, who was speaking as the party’s official spokesperson, the BJP has sent a message to the Sena leadership to control itself. But, BJP leaders choosing not to criticise (Uddhav) is also an indication that they do not want to hurt or upset Uddhav ji. It seems to be still keeping a window open (for its estranged ally),” a Sena leader, not wishing to be named, said.
Another party leader also pointed out that even when relations between the allies were strained, Fadnavis along with other BJP leaders had paid respects to Sena patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray on his death anniversary on November 17.