Shiv Sena envoy at Chandrababu Naidu’s side

Mumbai: On a day BJP leaders were firing on all cylinders, taking pot shots at Chandrababu Naidu — ‘pull him down, bury him’ – Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut was showing solidarity with the Andhra Chief Minister during his daylong fast in New Delhi.  In a move which took both his own party cadres as well as the BJP by surprise, Raut had strange company at the protest venue – he was flanked by Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh.

Speaking to the media, Raut said he had come to Andhra Bhavan as a representative of the Sena to deliver Uddhav Thackeray’s message to the fasting leader. Raut sprang the surprise at a time the decibel level of the war of words between the Shiv Sena and the BJP is at an all-time high, especially on the issue of Ram Mandir.

Raut further said he rejected the use of the word ‘mahamilaavat’ — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s derisive description of the mahagathbandhan. Incidentally, when it comes to the BJP, the editorial line in Saamna, the Sena’s mouthpiece, has been vacillating, veering from conciliatory to the critical.

In Monday’s editorial, the Sena once again criticised BJP national chief Amit Shah and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for their boastful claim that they will win over 40 seats in the state in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. However, according to a senior Sena leader, the dichotomy in the stance of Uddhav is creating confusion in the party rank and file.

The senior leader said, “Until last week, everything was okay and we thought the alliance with the BJP was on course. But Monday’s editorial and Raut’s presence at an Opposition rally have once again changed the scenario. It is high time Uddhavji takes a final call on the alliance.’’

Else, confusion will percolate to the grass-root level. Sena is also annoyed that Fadnavis speaks about the alliance whenever (Amit) Shah visits the state and speaks against it once Shah leaves. ‘‘I personally feel Uddhav must avenge the betrayal by the BJP in 2014. The talks are just for show, nobody from the Sena and the BJP wants a pre-poll alliance,” he claimed. Naidu’s day-long fast ended at 8.20 pm.

Among those who called on him were Congress president Rahul Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav NCP chief Sharad Pawar and TMC leader Derek O’ Brien.

Demanding that the Centre fulfil promises made during Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation in 2014, the TDP president alleged that Modi was not following ‘raj dharma’ by denying the state special status.”(Former PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee said ‘raj dharma’ was not followed in Gujarat (during the 2002 post-Godhra riots). Now, ‘raj dharma’ is not being followed in the case of Andhra Pradesh. We have been denied what is rightfully ours,” Naidu said

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