Monday, 6 October 2014

Hands off Balasaheb: Raj, Uddhav Thackeray teaming up against BJP?

Will the BJP achieve what even Balasaheb could not?
After years of warring, will the estranged Thackeray cousins - Raj and Uddhav -- are making surprisingly conciliatory noises in the aftermath of the unprecedented talaq which ended the 25-year alliance between the BJP and Shiv Sena.
Quoting a 'noted artiste with connections to the cousins', the Times of India said, "The recent split in the Shiv Sena-BJP combine has accelerated the process (of bridging the gulf between Uddhav and Raj). A close family member is chipping in too to iron out the differences between the two. This is the first serious attempt involving family members from both sides to re-unite the Thackeray cousins"
The first sign of a possible thawing in relations came soon after the BJP-Shiv Sena split was announced.
There were reports that Uddhav had called his cousin a day after the BJP ended its 25-year-old alliance with his party.
Both cousins subsequently confirmed that a conversation had taken place, although it was not clear what had been discussed. Uddhav said that he had merely called to inquire about his cousins 'health', while Raj said that he would reveal the content of the conversation later.
Is a reconciliation on the way? Sachin Gokhale/Firstpost
Is a reconciliation on the way? Sachin Gokhale/Firstpost
Following this however, both have been taking visible pot shots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, pointing out that the Prime Minister's whirlwind tour of the region only demonstrated the BJP's unpreparedness to face elections in the state, and ridiculing the concept of the 'Modi wave'.
"The Sena-BJP ties have come to an end after 25 long years. The parting of ways has been chaotic. The MNS too is bitter about the BJP after the latter ditched Rajsaheb during Lok Sabha elections. The Thackeray cousins have the BJP as their common political foe. The time is ripe for them to join hands to keep the BJP away from power," The TOI report quoted a Sena functionary as saying on condition of anonymity.
Raj Thackeray even went so far as to criticise the ruling party for ending its Shiv Sena alliance.
"Do you think that the BJP can now be trusted after what they did to the Shiv Sena? Some BJP leader told me that they had planned the break-up long ago. Did Uddhav not understand this? If Balasaheb would have been alive today, he would have broken the alliance a month ago itself", he said during an election rally.
He also criticised the BJP campaign, saying that they had no trump card to play except Narendra Modi. "The BJP has no face in Maharashtra, so they are bringing in Modi," he said in an interview with Headlines Today adding at a rally that a Prime Minister who was only for Gujarat would do no good for Maharashtra.
Uddhav for his part, assured his party cadre that the Modi wave could be held back, saying during one of his rallies, "I have nothing against Modi. But it is very clear that if there was indeed a 'Modi wave' in the state, they would not have asked him (Modi) to hold so many rallies. It is the first time that a PM will hold so many rallies before assembly polls."
But the Sena mouthpiece Saamana was less polite. Irked by recent Modi's statements, the paper responded, "Modi says that he will not attack the Sena in his speeches as he has respect for Balasaheb Thackeray. We too respect the PM. But when you back-stabbed us merely on the issue of seat sharing, where did that respect disappear then? Did you not think of Balasaheb before breaking the alliance forged on the principles of Hindutva?"
Of course, politicians and political alliances are far more fickle than the Indian monsoon. And all this new-found amity may well be posturing for advantage within a potentially muddled post-election scenario. Whether this olive sprig will bloom into a full-blown spring of reconciliation remains to be seen.
But if it causes some sleepless nights among BJP ranks, then both Thackerays can consider their mission accomplished.