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What Thackeray's silence means for Sena-BJP ties
August 26, 2007 19:40 IST
In a veiled warning to the Bharatiya Janata Party, its oldest ideological partner Shiv Sena on Sunday said the total silence of Sena chief Bal Thackarey on the issue of their alliance should be seen as a lull before the storm.
"Thackarey has not uttered a single word on the alliance issue for over one month. This should be seen as a lull before the storm," Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut told PTI.
The Sena has grown from strength to strength in the face of challenges and "never surrendered", he pointed out.
Raut's comments came in the backdrop of reports quoting unnamed BJP leaders that said the party was cobbling together an alternative alliance in Maharashtra following fissures in its relationship with the Shiv Sena ahead of the assembly polls in 2009, scheduled a few months after the next general election.
A report from Mumbai had quoted an unidentified senior BJP leader as saying, "We are in talks with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of Raj Thackarey, Peasants and Workers Party, Republican Party of India and others to stitch up an alternative alliance soon."
Ties between the Shiv Sena and BJP have been strained for nearly two months after the Sena supported UPA-Left nominee Pratibha Patil [Images] in the presidential election on the ground that she is a Maharashtrian.
While the BJP's Parliamentary Board held a meeting earlier this month on the issue of the ties, district presidents of the Shiv Sena favoured the snapping of the alliance with the BJP during a meeting in Mumbai.
Raut said the Shiv Sena does not want to react to such stories as it believes that its alliance with the BJP is still intact.
At the same time, Raut said Thackarey and Sena executive president Udhav Thackarey are keeping a close watch on the situation. "Our conscience is clear and we have no ill will towards anyone," he said.
Declining to be drawn into elaborating on his party's natural allies in Maharashtra in the event of a split with the BJP, Raut said the Shiv Sena is a formidable force in the state and has been working as an effective organisation.
"Our USP is that we have never surrendered to anybody and worked for the cause of the Marathi people in Maharashtra and for Hindutva at the national level," he said, claiming that the Sena, running on 40, is the oldest political party in the country as the Congress split some 30 years ago and the BJP was born at around the same time.
He said the Sena's victory in the MLC election in Aurangabad last week, despite the BJP spurning its request to support its nominee, is the latest proof of its strength, which was also seen in municipal polls in Mumbai and Thane as well as in the Lok Sabha by-polls in Ramtek.