Maharashtra civic polls: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray says his party to go solo, no alliance with BJP

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday announced that the party will not be forming an alliance for any of the municipal corporation and zilla parishad polls that will be held across Maharashtra between 16 and 21 February. His statement almost sounded like the final death knell on a bittersweet alliance with the BJP.

Hitting out at the BJP, Uddhav said his party has been sidelined in the decision-making process and added that he is not worried about the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections as he is confident that his party will win all of them. Sending out a strong message to the BJP, he even said that the Sena has wasted 25 years in an alliance and will not be knocking on any doors for an alliance.

"I will not bend in front of anybody. If somebody thinks we are lesser than them, we will displace them," an aggressive Thackeray told a gathering of party workers in suburban Goregaon without naming the BJP.

Thackeray also took a swipe at the BJP without naming it for inducting "goons" into the party.

"I said to someone, let us also induct some goons. But then, I was told none was left. My Shiv Sainiks are ready to respond to all your allegations, but make sure you do not involve the police," he said.

In a direct attack on the BJP-led central government, the Sena chief alleged that there was an "atmosphere of fear" in the country today as anyone who spoke against the ruling party was being branded as an anti-national.

"Those who would have been in the dust bin had the Sena supremo (the late Bal Thackeray) not stood behind them in the past, have forgotten everything now," he said.

"What kind of negotiations was the BJP doing (for seat-sharing for the MCGM poll)? The first meeting ended without any conclusion and in the second one, they ask for 114 seats (out of 227)? Is it not an insult to us? When we are asking for our share, we are doing so on the strength of the work done by us.

"We do not say a word when you have the posts of prime minister, chief minister with you, nor do we demand better portfolios. But, if you try and come to my own house and dislodge me, I will not tolerate it," Thackeray said.

The Sena chief also slammed the BJP-led state government's recent order banning the celebration of religious festivals, pujas and pictures of deities in government offices, alleging that Sena ministers were not taken into confidence before issuing the circular.

"Where was your transparency before you took this decision? Why were Sena ministers not taken into confidence? Had they been, they would have strongly protested it," Thackeray said.

Wondering why pictures of deities could not be hung in offices, Thackeray said he accepted secularism, but it should be applied without discrimination. "If you have the courage, implement the Uniform Civil Code," he said.

Polling for 15 zilla parishads and 165 panchayat samitis will be held on 16 February and elections to the remaining 11 zilla parishads, 118 panchayat samitis and 10 municipal corporations will be held on 21 February. The counting for all the elections will take place simultaneously on 23 February and the results are likely to be declared the same day.

Though Shiv Sena is BJP's partner at the Centre and in Maharashtra, it has become increasingly critical of the ruling BJP, behaving more like the Opposition than an ally. On Thursday, Uddhav said that the BJP is full of gundas (thugs) who don't have the strength to fight the sainiks.

Following Uddhav's announcement, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted: "Power ain't our ultimate goal but a medium of development. We'll take along those who come with us and leave aside who don't."

State minister Vinod Tawde tweeted that BJP's alliance with transparency.

The two parties have been at loggerheads over the seat-sharing issue for the BMC election. Until Thursday, both Uddhav and Fadnavis have been flitting around the issue. Of the 227 seats in the BMC, the BJP wanted to contest 114 seats, while Sena was willing to concede 60 seats, which led to the deadlock. According to sources in Sena, Uddhav made the announcement facing pressure from the party and since there was no word on the seat-sharing agreement from the BJP. However, Uddhav's statement was related to the municipal elections, there is no word on the status of its relation with the BJP at the state and national level.

The BJP has been in power with the Shiv Sena in the civic body for over two decades now. Currently, the BJP has 33 corporators while ruling Sena has 75 members. The Congress and NCP stand at 52 and 13 each while the MNS has 28 members in the municipal body.

The election is crucial for Sena as BMC has remained its stronghold even when the Congress-NCP ruled the state for 15 years and could help the party redeem its position after it slipped to the status of a junior partner of the BJP following the Assembly polls.

(With inputs from agencies)

Updated Date: Jan 26, 2017 22:11:45 IST