Shiv Sena’s praise for Rahul irks BJP

The Hindu

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Modi wave has faded, Sena leader Sanjay Raut said

The tricky relationship between the BJP and the Shiv Sena — parties that have been allies for over a quarter of a century and are partners in government at the Centre and in Maharashtra — struck a new low with Sena leader Sanjay Raut asserting that the “Modi wave” had waned. He went on to praise Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
At a function in Maharashtra, with BJP MLA and Minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government Vinod Tawde looking on, Mr. Raut said, “The Modi wave was there in 2014 Lok Sabha elections but now it seems to have faded away. The way people are marching on the roads of Gujarat after GST was introduced, it seems they [BJP] are going to face a challenge.” The Sena leader then praised Mr. Gandhi, saying that he was no longer considered a Pappu (a derisive reference to infantilism) and that people were accepting his leadership.
Long-running acrimony

There has been a long-running tug of war between the parties after the 2014 Assembly elections in Maharashtra that saw the BJP becoming the dominant party in the State and go it alone in the polls. Even though the Shiv Sena joined the government later, the bitterness remains.

BJP vice-president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe told The Hindu that he was not surprised by Mr. Raut’s comments. “Mr. Raut’s comments are least surprising! Regardless of what Shiv Sainiks think, a few of their party leaders have always had a soft corner [for the Congress] since the days of the Emergency,” he said, referring to the late Balasaheb Thackeray’s support to the imposition of Emergency by the Congress government in 1975, breaking ranks with the rest of the Opposition.
Fadnavis’s ultimatum

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the Shiv Sena to choose to be part of his government or opt out. “They can give their suggestions, but cannot simultaneously play the roles of a ruling party and an Opposition,” he said at a function.

Observers, however, feel that this will not be the last skirmish between the allies, which has been essentially described as an “ego hassle” rather than an ideological parting of ways. “Are Shiv Sainiks still part of the government at the State and Centre? The answer is yes. So it is status quo ante,” said a senior BJP leader in Delhi.

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