Shiv Sena adds to political din but may end up overplaying its hand

Mumbai The rift between the BJP and the Shiv Sena seems to be widening with Shiv Sena leader and Transport Minister Diwakar Raote clearly saying that if the Sena is not allowed to contest 144 seats, there may be no alliance.

Raote is known for his proximity to Matoshree. By an uncanny coincidence, the Nanar refinery project, the scrapping of which cleared the decks for the saffron alliance earlier, may this time become the catalyst of a split.

What started as a tussle over the Metro car shed project at Aarey, has got intertwined with the prickly Nanar issue. Sena was opposing the Nanar refinery and had forced the BJP to wind up the project.

But Uddhav Thackeray’s assertion on Monday that Aarey will meet the same fate as Nanar has reignited the controversy. While speaking in Rajapur on Wednesday, CM Fadnavis responded in kind.

“We may restart the Nanar project, which will provide employment to lakhs,” was his loaded statement, which now threatens to derail the alliance.

“At the time of the Lok Sabha election, BJP President Amit Shah had indicated that 144 Assembly seats will be given to the Sena,” Raote pointed out.

Aaditya Thackeray, too, has adopted an aggressive posture and is dropping hints about going it alone. The momentum the Sena is building is expected to unnerve the BJP into yielding more seats. But if the Sena overplays its hand, it could end up turning the State Assembly contest into one between the two saffron allies.

Incidentally, the Konkani Marathi voters, who are the backbone of the Shiv Sena, are against Nanar project. These voters hold key to more than 60 seats in Mumbai, Thane, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad. The Sena cannot take a U-turn on Nanar.

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