Mumbai: Maharashtra finance minister and senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday expressed confidence that his party and the Shiv Sena would stay united in future polls, against the backdrop of the Uddhav Thackeray-led party's stand to go solo.
Speaking at the "Mumbai Manthan" conclave organised by news channel Aaj Tak, the minister sought to downplay the criticism of the BJP government by the Sena, a constituent of the Central and Maharashtra governments and the oldest member of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance).
"There was a fiercer criticism even between the Congress and the NCP during their rule. If one expects complete equilibrium then there wouldn't be two different parties," he said.
"While we expect that there shouldn't be criticism everyday, the Sena is only doing its work. But we (the BJP) have decided among ourselves that we will refrain from such things in the interest of people," he said.
Mungantiwar further said that both the parties are together now and will remain so in future as well.
"I am confident that we will remain together in the upcoming elections. However, instead of criticism, there should be better work done," he said.
He further said the Opposition is not ready to introspect that they lost the elections because of their "attitude". "Instead, they are wasting their time by blaming EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) and alleging that the BJP had spent money (to win polls)," he said.
Sena MP Arvind Sawant said when his party criticises the BJP, it is not out of enmity.
"We view the criticism as our duty to bring an erring friend back on the right track," he said.
He credited Sena for the farm loan waiver announced by the BJP-led state government last year.
Sawant reiterated that his party would come to power on its own in the state in the assembly polls, due next October.
Maharashtra Congress chief Ashok Chavan said while the Sena agrees to the decisions taken in the Cabinet, the party criticises them outside.
"There are so, so many failures of this government — from mob lynching to suicides by farmers. People will decide their fate," he said.
Chavan claimed the election machinery, including returning officers, are under immense pressure so much so that they can't work independently.
"Why can't the EC switch to paper ballots even after a written demand was raised by the entire Opposition?" the former chief minister asked.
Mungantiwar said the EVMs were introduced by the Congress which is now criticising them.
"We are ready for ballot papers for elections," he said.
Chavan said all the secular and like-minded parties, including the CPI, CPM, SP, BSP, should come together.
Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said BJP and Sena had made many promises in the run-up to 2014 elections but later accepted that they were nothing but poll 'jumlas' (gimmick).
"The Sena criticises BJP everyday in its newspaper edits. The manner in which the BJP is attacked, they should be praised for tolerating Sena. Either you are in government or in the Opposition. You cannot be in both folds," he said.
The Cabinet takes decision collectively. So if the BJP has erred, so is the Sena, he said.
"Uddhavji (Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray) wants to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya. While we extend our well wishes for that, but why a memorial for Balasaheb Thackeray has not been constructed till now?" questioned Bhujbal, a former Shiv Sainik.
"Development was their agenda in 2014. Now when they know they are in trouble, they are remembering god now," Bhujbal said, referring to raking up of the Ram Mandir issue ahead of polls.
Updated Date: Oct 23, 2018 23:12:34 IST