After snub from Uddhav Thackeray, BJP minister says ‘we are able to go solo‘

MUMBAI: The rift in the ruling BJP-Shiv has deepened with cancelling his appointment with senior minister on Monday.
The rebuff to Mungantiwar was Thackeray’s way of showing displeasure over the recent killing of two Sena activists in Kedgaon in Ahmednagar district. A BJP MLA is allegedly involved in the murders, and this has further strained ties. However, the Sena president has dropped the party ministers’ gherao, which was planned on Tuesday, to Varsha, CM Devendra Fadnavis’s official Malabar Hill residence, to protest the Ahmednagar murders.

After Thackeray ticked off Mungantiwar, the latter retaliated by staring at a presser that the BJP was willing to contest the next state legislative assembly election on its own strength. “Having a poll alliance with the Sena shouldn’t be mistaken as our weakness. We will fight all the 288 assembly seats on our own,” said the finance minister. This is for the first time that a BJP functionary has publicly chided the Sena for threatening to walk out of the alliance.

Flexing his political muscle, Sena leader Sanjay Raut, MP, said that his party would not ink a poll pact with the BJP even if the latter “plants a buss” on the Sena’s cheek.

The Sena is livid over the police crackdown on over 500 Sena workers who went on a rampage last week in Kedgaon to condemn the killings. The Sena workers have been booked under various sections for arson and destruction of public property. Thackeray wants the state government to drop charges against the Sena workers.

Serious trouble in the BJP-Sena alliance broke out when Thackeray piloted a resolution, at a meeting of the party’s national executive held in Mumbai in January this year, that the Sena would go solo in the next elections. The twin killings in Ahmednagar have “added fuel to the fire,” admitted a key BJP functionary. “However, there is no immediate threat to the Fadnavis government,” he said.

Thackeray sent senior Sena ministers Ramdas Kadam and to Kedgaon on Monday to meet the close relatives of the slain party activists. Uddhav himself will visit Kedgaon on April 23, it is learnt. Meanwhile, Fadnavis too has begun a damage-control exercise, it is learnt. He recently assured Sena ministers that cases against the Sena workers in the Kedgaon incident would be withdrawn, sources said.

NCP MLA from Ahmednagar Sangram Jagtap and three others have been arrested for the twin murders. Rahuri BJP MLA Shivaji Kardile has been arrested for his role in ransacking the superintendent of police’s office.

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