Like a ship caught in a storm, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance has for some time now somehow managed to float on, given the war of words often exchanged between the two parties. At a time when the bugle is blowing loud and clear for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation polls early next year, the turf war is now burgeoning into a prestige issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial in the Arabian Sea on 24 December but the political grapevine is heating up casting doubts if Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray would attend the event or not.
"If I get proper respect, then I will definitely join the function. We have always supported the good things done by the government. The chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) and I are in regular touch with each other and there is nothing to worry about," said Uddhav on Tuesday.
The degree of ‘respect’ is such that it might even decide the future course of political decisions — primarily the continuance of the alliance.
During the Assembly session, Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik had demanded that Uddhav be given the same respect that is extended to NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Sena insiders claimed that Uddhav will not be attending the ceremony unless he is given due respect and is seated next to Modi.
On two earlier occasions, Uddhav had refused to attend the functions when he did not get to share the stage with Modi.
A senior Sena official told Firstpost that when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister, at a public function, Vajpayee had sidelined all protocols and shared the stage with late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
The BJP insiders and sources close to Fadnavis told Firstpost that the chief minister will personally invite Uddhav for the function, however, there has been no confirmation from Sena whether their party chief will attend the event or not.
A senior government official assured that there is no question of ego and all protocols will be followed and Uddhav will be treated with respect.
Fadnavis had recently said at the Nagpur Assembly that Modi is likely to perform the bhoomi pujan ceremony and will also inaugurate the Mumbai and Pune's metro projects. Though the official programme has not been finalised, Modi is likely to attend a party meeting at the Bandra Kurla Complex, said a senior official of the Protocol Department.
The Centre has already cleared all the 12 permissions required for the Rs 3,600 crores memorial that will be spread across 15.96 hectares on reclamation land. The work will be carried out in two phases. The Cabinet has sanctioned Rs 2,300 for the first phase and tender process will begin soon, said the chief minister.
"Shivaji Maharaj is the pride of Maharashtra and that's why the inauguration function will be a grand one," he added. Fadnavis will be inviting all the MLAs to the function as well.
For the memorial function, water from 70 rivers and soil from over 50 forts will be used. The first phase will involve the construction of Tulja Bhavani Mandir, eight museums, an amphitheater, exhibition gallery, helipad, hospital and other tourist attractions.
On Tuesday, while addressing media persons in Pali, Ratnagiri, Uddhav said that he will wait for another 10 days, thereafter he will speak his mind on demonetisation. Taking a dig at Modi, he asked, "Will everything function smoothly once the 50-day deadline is over?"
Uddhav and his party have been vocal about their opposition to demonetisation. Their stand has been that the move has caused harassment to the poor.
Updated Date: Dec 21, 2016 00:19:52 IST