BMC polls: Shiv Sena prepares ground to contest without BJP CM and Rajnath promise smooth release for film
ELECTION STRATEGY Uddhav Thackeray’s party not to forge alliance for civic polls in small towns
The Shiv Sena sent out strong signals on Thursday that the party might end its 20-year-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the country’s richest civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told senior party leaders to prepare to contest all polls on their own strength, instead of being dependent on others.
Sources said Thackeray’s message to the Sena leaders, in a meeting at his residence — Matoshree — was that the Shiv Sena’s final battle is with its own friend, and if it wins this one, ‘the party will emerge all-powerful. He further said that in the party’s 50-year history, the Sena has always fought against everyone, be it the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), or its allies and traitors – a veiled reference to the BJP – and is capable of securing a win all by itself.
“Uddhavsaheb cited examples of regional parties headed by Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu, Lalu Prasad in Bihar and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and pointed out how they could win their states contesting solo. He even cited the example of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who snapped ties with the BJP and led his party to victory in the Assembly elections there,” said a senior Sena leader.
“Although there is no definitive decision yet about an alliance for the Mumbai civic elections, he has told us to be prepared to fight it out alone. He made it clear that if the BJP wants an alliance for Mumbai, the party should approach us. We won’t go with a begging bowl.”
To test the waters, Sena has already drawn up its election strategy and is planning to contest elections to 212 municipal councils and nagar panchayats – scheduled from November 27 CM Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray hold the key to the future of the BJP-Sena alliance.
to December 8 – alone without a tie-up with the BJP, Sena leaders said. The polls for 4,750 seats, followed by elections to ten municipal corporations, including the cash-rich BMC, are expected to present a clear picture of where every party currently stands in Maharashtra. The elections will also give an inkling of whether the BJP, which came to power in the state with a resounding majority, still enjoys the same popularity.
Another Shiv Sena leader said, “All party leaders present at the meeting agreed that the BJP is trying to overpower regional parties at the local level, and does not treat the Shiv Sena as an equal partner.” He added
that Thackeray also expressed his displeasure about the BJP not consulting the Shiv Sena for nominations to the state legislative council, for which biennial elections are scheduled for six seats in November.
This entire week, the Sena chief has been visiting the party’s shakhas, its local administrative units, across Mumbai, speaking to its ‘footsoldiers’ and among other things, reviewing the party’s preparedness to fight the BMC elections solo. At the party’s annual Dussehra rally, too, Thackeray hinted that the Sena will concede to an alliance only if it gets the “upper hand”.
Senior BJP leaders, however, dismissed the Sena chief ’s missive to the party’s senior leaders as a bargaining tactic.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh assured the producers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on Thursday that it will get a “safe and secure” release, giving hope to filmmaker Karan Johar’s film that ran into trouble because of a call to ban Pakistani artistes.
He assured a delegation of film and television producers a “great Diwali” and 100% support in releasing the film on October 28, despite nationalist groups and political parties calling for its ban.
“Rajnath Singh said he will speak to chief ministers of every state and that Ae Dil Hai Mushkil will release without any violence,” delegation head and filmmaker Mukesh Bhatt said.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis assured filmmaker Johar that his BJP-led government will ensure smooth release of the film. “The government will not allow anyone to disturb law and order and stern action will be taken. Democratic protest is fine, but unlawful activity will not be tolerated,” Fadnavis assured Johar.
Johar found support from another Union minister — Babul Supriyo, a Bollywood playback singer and BJP MP. “The MNS have no
right or shouldn’t have the audacity to create ruckus at theatres, they have always been a party of goons,” he said.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil — featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan — ran into protests after Pakistan-based militants killed 19 soldiers in Uri on September 18.
Nationalists sought a ban on employing Pakistani artistes in Indian cinema and television.
The Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and nationalist groups issued a veiled threat of vandalism at multiplexes if the film is screened.
The Supreme Court, and not Parliament, which takes too long to frame laws, would decide if invoking religion by candidates or their supporters to seek votes was illegal, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said on Thursday.
Elections were a secular exercise and religion should be separated from political process, said a seven-bench judge headed by the CJI, wondering if raising issues like Ram temple by a poll candidate was legal.
“Our basic ethos is secularism…..elections are a secular issue. Can religion be brought into the secular arena? Do we allow religion to be the basis of electoral politics,” the court said.
The remarks come a few months ahead of five state elections, including those in Uttar Pradesh where attempts are being made to revive the Ram Temple issue, a promise to build a temple in Ayodhya where once Babri Masjid stood.
The court made these observations as it revisits a 1995 judgment that said Hinduism was a way of life and seeking votes in its name was not illegal.
“Parliament has not done anything in the last 20 years since this reference (dispute on Hinduism) was pending. They did not do anything about sexual harassment for years,” the court said, referring to the Vishakha guidelines that came into force in December 2013, 16 years after the court’s order.