January 28, 2017 12:27:16 am
A DAY after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray announced that his party will go solo in civic body elections in Mumbai, Pune and elsewhere in the state, the Shiv Sena workers were seen to be in a vibrant mood – bursting crackers and distributing sweets in city. Not to be outdone by Sena’s belligerence, the BJP was quick to retaliate as it described the parting of ways as “good riddance” — a view echoed by Sena too. Throwing gulal in the air at its Deccan office in the city, Sena workers looked delighted as they raised slogans against BJP and “vowed” to put its state alliance partner in place in the civic body polls.
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“BJP is solely responsible for the pre-poll alliance plan falling apart…we are fully prepared to contest the elections on our own,” said Vinayak Nimhan, president of Sena’s Pune city unit.
Nimhan said the BJP leaders were making confusing statements that revealed the party’s proximity to NCP. “That’s why it is better to part ways with a partner trying to play double game,” said Nimhan, who had told this paper a couple of days back that the pre-poll alliance will not happen.
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However, BJP leaders said the Shiv Sena will struggle to find 162 candidates. “And where will they find 80 women candidates …we had won all assembly seats two years back and since then our strength has been on the upswing. We will fare better than the past election,” said a BJP leader, calling the development good omen for them “rather than constantly hearing taunts from their leadership”. The Shiv Sena had 15 corporators while the BJP had 25 corporators in the outgoing PMC House.
Reacting to the development, Yogesh Gogawale, president of BJP’s Pune city unit, said,”We were making all efforts to forge a pre-poll alliance with Sena, but it failed to work out. It will not affect BJP, we are all geared up to put up a solid show on the poll terrain,” he said.
Gogawale said “who fields whom” will decide who wins. “It means the kind of candidates fielded will decide the outcome. We will field winning candidates and grab power at PMC,” he said. Reacting to Sena’s wild celebrations, Gogawale said,”It was their political style…”
In Pimpri-Chinchwad, where BJP has upped the ante to snatch power from Ajit Pawar-led NCP by indulging mass import of leaders and workers, the celebrations among Sainiks were subdued but party leaders said stand by views expressed by their leader. “We are disciplined soldiers of the party and support the stand taken by our party chief,” said Shiv Sena Maval MP Shrirang Barne. Uddhav had used strong words like “nalayak” and “wild bull” to describe the BJP.
Barne said, “In Pimpri-Chinchwad, their fight was not against the BJP but against NCP-A (original party) and NCP-B (BJP with turnocats from NCP). Where is the real BJP in Pimpri-Chinchwad? It has imported NCP leaders in a big way…That’s why our fight will be against NCP-A and NCP-B,” he said.
Barne said the BJP was doing everything to ensure that there was no pre-poll alliance. “Despite us stepping down on number of seats, the BJP kept giving one excuse or the other. They clearly did not intent to form a pre-poll alliance,” he said, adding that the Sena will not be one bit affected by the parting. A Sena leader added, “Enough of constant humiliation at the hands of BJP…now we will show them their place.”
Hitting back at the Sena, Sarang Kamtekar, general secretary of BJP unit, said,”It was BJP which at every meeting tried to pass time. They were never serious about a pre-poll alliance.”
BJP said the Sena decision to go solo will benefit them in a big ways. “In the last assembly elections two years back, BJP had polled 2 lakh votes in the three assembly seats while Sena had secured 1.50 lakh votes. Besides, rebel NCP candidate Mahesh Landge who was with BJP and had polled 60,000 votes to become an MLA is now with BJP. Also, Azam Pansare and several other top NCP leaders are now with us. Therefore, our voter strength has shot up while Sena’s strength has only depleted,” he said, adding,”whatever happens happens for good.”
On the other hand, Barne said the BJP instead of becoming strong after importing NCP leaders, has become a divided and a bitter party. “The original BJP worker is unhappy today. There is widespread resentment brewing in the party. If imported NCP leaders get tickets, the original BJP workers will ensure that their candidate is defeated,” Barne said. In contrast, Barne said, the Sena is a united force and would go all-out to emerge victorious in PCMC polls.
In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won only three corporators while the Sena had 15 corporators. “We might not win the polls but we will certainly emerge as the number one party after the polls,” said Barne.
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