As the Opposition's INDIA bloc's third meeting gets underway in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena has taken a dig at Uddhav-Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) for hosting the meeting.
The UBT faction had put up saffron flags along with pictures of Uddhav outside the Mumbai airport to welcome INDIA leaders. Santosh Kadam, secretary, Bharatiya Kamgar Sena (UBT), a frontal organisation of the Sena, told ANI the saffron flags at the Mumbai airport were part of their identity. "Hindutva is our identity and all the people living in India are Hindus. The rest of the coalition partners will also agree to this," he said.
However, the gesture and the decision to host the meeting were met with criticism from the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction, which mocked Uddhav Thackeray for being "subservient to the Congress." The Shiv Sena put up banners that quoted a statement by the Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray in Marathi saying, "I will not let Shiv Sena become the Congress".
The banner appeared on the Western Express Highway in Santacruz, Mumbai.
Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar also targeted Uddhav Thackeray claiming he has "become subservient to the Congress and is rolling out the carpet for those who have taken an anti-Hindutva stand."
Addressing a press conference along with state Shiv Sena minister Deepak Kesarkar, Kiritikar, the parliamentarian from northwest Mumbai, also claimed there is a "paradox" in the opposition bloc INDIA with regard to ideologies.
Kesarkar said there is still no clarity on the prime ministerial candidate in the opposition bloc. "The day the opposition declares its prime minister candidate, the opposition unity will crumble into pieces," he claimed.
Kirtikar said seat sharing will also be a problem for the opposition alliance, especially in states like West Bengal where archrivals Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left are in the same bloc. "Balasaheb Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena based on Hindutva, but Uddhav Thackeray has become subservient to the Congress," Kirtikar claimed.
When Congress leaders dubbed Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar as "maafiveer", a reference to mercy petitions he wrote to the British, Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders did not ask any questions and instead Aaditya Thackeray attended Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra, Kirtikar said.