As Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT) make up over Savarkar, BJP disappointed there's no break-up

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray had earlier taken severe objections to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's description of Savarkar as an apologist

As Congress, Shiv Sena (UBT) make up over Savarkar, BJP disappointed there's no break-up

Sujata Anandan

The BJP in Maharashtra seems to be quite put out of sorts as the Shiv Sena (UBT)  and Congress seal their differences over Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and become friends again.

SS (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray had earlier taken severe objections to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's description of Savarkar as an apologist and consequently, his party stayed away from a meeting called for opposition unity by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in New Delhi on Monday.

Moving swiftly to seal the breach, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar had met former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and, according to informed sources, told her that the threat from the BJP to all political parties and the issue of opposition unity were today far more important than the long gone Savarkar and that the Congress needed to go slow on the issue.

“Uddhav Thackeray will listen one hundred percent to Pawarsaheb but he was wary of speaking directly to Rahul Gandhi. So Saheb spoke to Soniaji. Rahul was present at the meeting and he agreed to tone down on Savarkar,“ the sources told the National Herald, adding that it was at Pawar’s urging that Sena MP Sanjay Raut met Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi today and made an unambiguous announcement about the cessation of hostilities.

The BJP, which was hoping Savarkar will prove a stumbling block in the Maha Vikas Aghadi unity, is not happy. Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar has labelled the entire contretemps as a staged drama and said it has not been very convincing. “If Pawar has sealed their differences then he must hold public meetings across Maharashtra along with the Congress  and publicly apologise for the insult to Savarkar,” Shelar said. Quite beside the point is the fact that neither Pawar nor any one else in the NCP had said anything about Savarkar.

But the BJP, which was hoping to go to town on the Savarkar issue, seems to now find the ground cut from under its feet and states that the entire imbroglio has been ‘manufactured’ right from the start –mee maarla saarkha karto ani tu laglaa sarkha kar (I will pretend I have beaten you and you pretend you have been hurt), the BJP leaders are stating.

However, a NCP leader described the manner in which both Uddhav and Rahul  had deferred  to Pawar’s greater wisdom as a sign of the “mature politics that everybody is now following” and stressed that the MVA will stay firmly together.

After Rahul Gandhi’s statement on Savarkar, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had threatened to take out Savarkar Gaurav  Yatras across the state and Savarkar’s grandson Ranjit Savarkar had demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi. But the rapprochement and the fact that many Congress supporters have widely circulated copies of Savarkar’s multiple mercy petitions to the British seems to have taken the wind out of their sails.  BJP leaders had been slow in following the Shinde faction in changing their DPs on social media to images of Savarkar but complied hastily once word of a rapprochement filtered through.

They are not quite pleased that there is going to be no break up between the Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray group. Conscious of the fact that Shinde might not electorally be quite the winner they had hoped for and that the Thackerays still seem to have the sympathy of not just their traditional voters but a whole lot of new ones, they were looking for an issue to break up the MVA and had hoped that Savarkar would prove that flash point. 

The BJP which is worried about projections that the MVA could get around 34 of the 48 seats from Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha next year was hoping  Savarkar would be a convincing issue among their own voters  to woo back Uddhav Thackeray who would then be completely at  their mercy. But now that that does not seem possible, the BJP is hoping to embarrass  Pawar by asking him to make his  support of Savarkar public so that there remains only a thin dividing line between the saffron and secular forces. However, Pawar is too  seasoned a player to heed such provocation and he seems to have accomplished his task with the minimum fuss. The BJP in Maharashtra are proving to be  sore losers.

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