In one of the sharpest attacks after the recently held Lok Sabha bypoll in Palghar, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Sunday described the Bharatiya Janata Party as its biggest "political enemy".
The country "does not" want the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, but could "accept" the Congress or Janata Dal-Secualr leader H D Deve Gowda, he said.
"The Shiv Sena is the biggest political enemy of the BJP. The Sena's radical Hinduism would prove problematic for the BJP," he said in an opinion piece written under his rokh-thokh (straight forward) column published in party mouthpiece Saamana.
Raut is the editor of the Marathi daily.
Taking potshots at the saffron party, Raut said the BJP paid tribute to its late MP Chintaman Wanaga by defeating his son, the Sena candidate, in Palghar.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of Chintaman Wanaga.
Since the Sena is the main political opponent of the BJP, the latter's plan is to weaken the Uddhav Thackeray-led party while staying in power with it, he alleged.
"Hence, the BJP's plan is to stay with the Sena in power and try to weaken it by using power and money. The BJP used its resources to ensure Shiv Sena's defeat in the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll (held last month)," Raut said.
The Sena leader claimed "trickery" of EVMs led to the BJP's victory in Palghar and said it was nothing short of a "scandal".
"On the day of voting (May 28), complaints of EVMs malfunctioning were reported from at least 100 locations. The Election Commission rejected the Shiv Sena's request for extending voting hours, but a similar demand of BJP candidate Rajendra Gavit (who won the seat) was accepted," he alleged.
He claimed that every polling station, where extension for voting was given, reported an "average 100 extra votes to the BJP nominee and cumulatively BJP's votes increased by some thousands. But some 60,000 voters could not vote".
"After the voting, the district collector declared 46 per cent turnout, but the figure went up to 56 per cent the next day (when final figure was announced). It means 82,000 votes increased overnight", he said.
Raut charged that the BJP has appointed people with RSS links to key constitutional posts and controlled the election procedure.
He also referred to the setback suffered by the BJP in the just held Lok Sabha and assembly bypolls in some states.
"The BJP managed to win the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll but it lost many other Lok Sabha and assembly bypolls. This shows winds of change are blowing in several parts of the country," he said.
"The bypoll results indicate beginning of the BJP's downfall," said the Rajya Sabha MP.
He charged that "the country is in such a state of mind that it can accept the Congress or Deve Gowda, but does not want the Modi- Shah duo".