Hitting back at the Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday said the Uddhav Thackeray-led outfit's Hindutva is merely on paper and finds mention just in speeches, while it was his party men who faced bullets and lathis during the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.
The Leader of Opposition in the state assembly said the Shiv Sena, heading the three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, could not even rename some cities in the state, marking an escalation of war of words between the former saffron allies ahead of crucial elections to a clutch of civic bodies, including the all-important Mumbai municipal corporation.
Leading the attack on Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who on Sunday said the BJP's 'opportunistic Hindutva' is only for power and regretted his past alliance with the national party, Fadnavis said under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Ram temple is being built in Ayodhya.
Modi also developed the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor, the former CM added.
Fadnavis said on the other hand, the Sena could not even rename Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv, but Allahabad was rechristened Prayagraj (under the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh).
The Shiv Sena has time and again referred to Aurangabad, a city in central Maharashtra built by Mughal ruler Aurangzeb as Sambhajinagar after second Maratha king Chhatrapati Sambhaji (the son of Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj), and Osmanabad as Dharashiv.
"Who all from the Sena participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement? We are the ones who took bullets and lathis in the movement. Your (Shiv Sena) Hindutva is merely on paper," the BJP leader said in a blistering attack on the former ally.
"Modi ensured that a Ram temple was built in Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh), but the Sena could not solve the Durgadi temple issue in Kalyan (town of Maharashtra). What is your Hindutva beyond speeches? You need to live Hindutva. It is not restricted to speeches,” the former chief minister said.
Fadnavis also said even before the Shiv Sena was born (in 1966), there was Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the erstwhile avatar of the BJP, which had corporators in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and MLAs in the state.
In 1984, Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi contested the Lok Sabha poll on BJP's ticket, he pointed out.
On Sunday, Uddhav Thackeray had said "The BJP doesn't mean Hindutva. I stand by my comment that the Shiv Sena had wasted 25 years in alliance with the BJP."
To this, Fadnavis claimed that when the Sena was with the BJP, it became the number one party, but after quitting the saffron alliance, the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has now slipped to the fourth position.
He was referring to the recent local body polls where the Sena bagged fourth position.
“So with whom did the Sena waste its years?” Fadnavis wondered.
In Pune, state BJP president Chandrakant Patil said Thackeray's attack on the BJP stems from the Sena's disappointment from its showing in the recently held local body polls where it was relegated to the fourth position.
The BJP and the Nationalit Congress Party have claimed the number one spot.
“Thackeray's speech yesterday (Sunday) was similar to the previous Dussehra speech. The same thing happened in the case of Uddhav Thackeray. When a man understands his mistake but cannot accept it, he sighs in frustration and calls another a mistake. The Shiv Sena came fourth in the Nagar Panchayat elections,” Patil said.
The former state minister said in 41 nagar panchyats, the Sena could not even open an account.
Taking a dig at his former ally, Patil said the Sena has to keep reminding people that it has not left the path of Hindutva.
“The budgetary allocation for Maulana Azad Minorities Financial Development Corporation Ltd has been increased but same cannot be done to Annasaheb Patil Arthik Magas Vikas Mahamandal Ltd,” Patil said.
The Sena fell out with the BJP after the 2019 Maharashtra polls and tied up with the NCP and the Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state.
The Maharashtra BJP tweeted a photo of a sports complex named after Tipu Sultan.
“We left the BJP, not Hindutva- CM @OfficeofUT ji. So, who have you named a park in Mumbai in the name of 'Tipu Sultan' who massacred thousands of Hindus and destroyed Hindu temples? Has @ShivSena started liking Tipu Sultan?” The Maharashtra BJP tweeted.
Backing Thackeray, NCP minister Nawab Malik earlier in the day said everyone should be proud of the religion they profess, but it is wrong to spread hatred in its name and the Shiv Sena chief has given the same message.
“Everyone should be proud of their religion but it is harmful if there is hatred against others. The Shiv Sena is trying to say the same thing that one must be proud of their religion and propagate it, but it is wrong to spread hatred against others. We think Uddhav Thackeray ji has said the same thing,” Malik said.