New Delhi/Mumbai: In an explosive revelation, the group of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has claimed that the former Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) chief minister Uddhav Thackeray was keen to patch up and ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Shinde group’s newly-named Shiv Sena Leader in Lok Sabha Rahul Shewale said that Thackeray had allegedly discussed the issue of alliance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an hour and also with the party leaders.
“At our meetings recently, Thackeray had stated how he had made all possible efforts to rebuild the alliance with the BJP, but could not do it. He also asked us (MPs) to make our own attempts for a tie-up,” Shewale added.
He said that the Shiv Sena is “still part of National Democratic Alliance” since it has not given any letter snapping its ties with the BJP-led coalition at the Centre.
The contentions by Shewale — virtually accusing Thackeray of surreptitiously sabotaging the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress MVA alliance — came in the presence of Shinde who announced the entry of 12 Lok Sabha MPs to his group on Tuesday evening.
The statements kicked up a massive storm in the Shiv Sena and its allies who hit back rubbishing Shewale’s utterances.
Dismissing the claims, Sena Chief Spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said that the alliance was broken in 2014 and 2019 by the BJP.
“We were together in the 2014 assembly polls, but the BJP broke the ‘Hindutva alliance’. Later in 2019, the BJP snapped ties by going back on its promises. We wanted to have the alliance but it’s the BJP which severed the ties. We are not responsible for it,” Raut asserted.
He questioned Shewale and other MPs who joined the Shinde Group today, that “how many of them spoke out when Uddhav Thackeray and his family were being reviled in the lowly language”, and reiterated that the Sena chief took all major decision consulting his partymen and also the MVA leaders.
Dismissing Shewale’s revelations, Raut said Thackeray and Modi regularly talk as they have personal relations beyond the political, “so there is no need to attach any importance to such claims”.
Sena MP Arvind Sawant rejected Shewale’s claims as an attempt to create more confusion and declared that “we are not with the NDA”.
“We have proved it with our actions in the past two-and-half years, we have not attended a single meeting of NDA. Was our MVA government ever acceptable to them? And if they are claiming that Thackeray was ready for an alliance with BJP, then why did they (the rebel MLAs and MPs) walk out of Shiv Sena,” Sawant demanded to know.
Former minister Aditya Thackeray said a lot of news is floating around today even about the persons (Shewale) who made the claims in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“It is their hatred and jealousy for us and the party that is now coming out. In that meeting which they are referring to, even Ajit Pawar (NCP) and Ashok Chavan (Congress) were also present,” pointed out Aditya, indicating that no such discussions took place exclusively between the Prime Minister and the then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
In a guarded reaction, NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto said that so far it is only “a one sided story” and the other side should also get an opportunity to give their version.
“The Shinde group has been cooking up many false stories in the past few weeks. So it is difficult to believe everything they speak. Truth cannot be hidden and it will emerge sooner or later,” Crasto said.
The fresh upheaval in Maharashtra politics came exactly a month after a Shinde-led revolt on June 20 by around 40 MLAs plus independents and others toppled the MVA government of Thackeray on June 29.
A month later, Thackeray got a fresh jolt as 12 Shiv Sena MPs switched alliance, just a day ahead of the crucial case hearing in the Supreme Court on July 20.