The strain in the relationship between ruling allies Shiv Sena and BJP grew further today with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party putting up posters mocking BJP president Amit Shah and setting afire the effigy of the party’s city unit chief Ashish Shelar in South Mumbai.
Taking a stern view, BJP warned its belligerent ally of giving a “fitting reply” if Sena leadership fails to rein in its cadres. Escalating the confrontation, Sena cadres put up posters depicting Shah and BJP chief spokesperson Madhav Bhandari dressed in attires of characters from Bollywood movie “Sholay”.
The effigy on Shelar was put on fire, days after he gave a veiled warning to Sena to keep away from burning effigies of BJP leaders.
The latest provocation was Bhandari’s recent article in BJP publication “Manogat”, which has not gone down well with Sena. In the write-up, Bhandari dared Sena, its sulking ally, to take “divorce” from power and compared Uddhav with comedy actor Asrani’s famous character as a jailor in “Sholay”.
In a sharp reply tonight, state BJP secretary and MLC Sujit Singh Thakur said, “BJP remained calm for past few days even after repetitive provocations from Shiv Sena workers. If anyone is taking it otherwise, they should understand it clearly that the BJP is strong enough to give a fitting reply”.
Taking a strong objection to burning of effigy of Shelar, Thakur said, “We too can resort to burning effigies or burning newspapers. But, we have kept quiet keeping in mind the larger good. But, no one should test our tolerance. If Sena leaders don’t control their workers, they would be entirely responsible for any reaction arising from BJP workers”.
He stated that BJP would henceforth not tolerate any derogatory remarks aimed at its national leaders.
Some BJP leaders had recently called for burning of copies of Sena mouthpiece “Saamana” for pouring vitriol on BJP every other day. However, Sena in an editorial condemned the BJP leaders’ statement, saying that all those who want the daily to be burned were attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ideology.