Raj Thackeray
Raj Thackeray
Photo by BL Soni

Bharatiya Janata Party, which has lost power to Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra, is divided over extending support to Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Differences were surfaced after MNS unveiled the new flag which is saffron in colour and has a Rajmudra in centre. The colour was changed from saffron, blue and green to just saffron, while the Raj mudra in the flag was used during Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj rule.

Former finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said BJP is in favour of allying with the like-minded parties. ''Shiv Sena had an alliance with BJP for over two and half decades on common thought. But Shiv Sena broke the alliance after it decided to form the government with Congress party,'' he noted.

However, former revenue minister Eknath Khadse ruled out the possibility of MNS striking an alliance with BJP. "MNS is a separate party with its own leader and style of functioning. I don't see any tie-up between BJP and MNS,'' he said.

Khadse said even though Hindutva will be a common thread between BJP and MNS, BJP has a national presence and does not have a parochial stand.

On the other hand, BJP spokesman Ganesh Hake alleged that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was the brain behind MNS to unveil the saffron flag. ''It is a conspiracy to divide Hindu votes. However, it will not succeed in Maharashtra,'' he opined.

However, NCP state chief and irrigation minister Jayant Patil strongly refuted Hake's allegation. ''Is BJP so scared of NCP chief Sharad Pawar? Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had recently met MNS chief Raj Thackeray. So it is improper to level charges against Pawar,'' he viewed.

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