A few hours after Party President Amit Shah asked Maharashtra BJP workers to start preparing for a solo fight in the 2019 general elections, long-time ally Shiv Sena has stung back with another vicious blow.
“I’m fighting for the common man’s dream, not for (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s dream,” Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has said in an interview published in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana on Monday.
“We don’t have only one friend. We are friends of the public,” Mr Thackeray added, saying, “I will hunt but don’t need to shoot from anyone else’s shoulder. Nor will I need a gun for the hunt.”
BJP’s animosity with Shiv Sena has reached a new high after its oldest ally chose to stay away from the no trust debate in the parliament on Friday and refused to vote in its favour even after Amit Shah personally called up Uddhav Thackeray and requested him to do so.
BJP had claimed that Sena was on board and would vote in favour of the government. Sena had even issued a whip ordering all party MPs to be present in parliament and vote. But the next morning, just before the no-confidence motion was about to be taken up, Sena declared that they would not even attend the debate.
This overnight change of heart deeply embarrassed BJP, which then went on to seize the no-confidence motion as an opportunity to show off its numbers not just to allies but also to other parties. The Sena’s decision was followed by a Saamana editorial that said: “Those ruling the country are butchers who save animals but kill humans”, which reportedly referred to the recent Alwar lynching where a man was killed on the suspicion of being a cow smuggler.
Sena further shocked BJP by praising Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s speech, who launched a searing attack on PM Modi during the debate and then walked across the house to give him a surprise hug that rattled the PM.
The BJP has not yet decided on whether the alliance should be called off yet but Amit Shah’s words at a party meeting in Mumbai showcase the party’s toughest stand ever. Sources say Amit Shah told party workers that they should prepare to fight next year’s national polls alone in Maharashtra, where the two parties have been allies for nearly three decades.