Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut talks about BJP’s one-upmanship and growing pitch within his party about withdrawing from the BJP-led coalition.
The BJP-Shiv Sena tie-up in Maharashtra seems more like a marriage of convenience than a strong political alliance based on a common ideology. The Sena has been constantly attacking the central government on issues such as demonetisation and rising fuel prices.
In an interview to Associate Editor Kumar Anshuman, senior Shiv Sena leader and MP, Sanjay Raut, talks about the growing pitch within his party to withdraw from the BJP-led coalition in the state and Centre. Excerpts:
There is nothing new about the Sena being critical about the BJP. What’s so different this time?
We are part of the government, both in Maharashtra and at the Centre. At the same, time, we are the only one which is in a confrontation with the BJP despite being in a coalition. But now, things have gone too far and we need to take a decision as a party.
Is the party seriously considering pulling out of the government?
A few days ago, the party MLAs and other leaders gathered to meet our leader Uddhav-ji and everyone voiced the same complaint — that our MLAs have no power or authority to execute public work in their areas. In fact, there is a deliberate attempt by the government to prevent development in our constituencies. Everyone supported the idea of moving out of the government.
But this is not the first time that Sena MLAs have raised such complaints. How do you explain it?
There were individual complaints earlier, but not all of them came forward to voice their concerns together. There is no point being in a government or an alliance where the other partner wants to grow by destroying you. Uddhav-ji told the MLAs that he would take a decision very soon. Like every year, he would address the party workers on Dussehra and make some announcements then.
Is there any discussion on joining hands with other parties in Maharashtra?
The Shiv Sena is a party that has fought alone in Maharashtra. Even when the BJP was with us, we were on the streets, fighting for the people of Maharashtra. So, we have no issues being single. But everything will be clear after Dussehra.
Are you in touch any other NDA partner?
The NDA is in coma now. This is not the NDA it used to be when Vajpayee-ji was prime minister. Today, the BJP has the majority in Parliament and in a sense, they don’t require us to run the government.
There is no joint coordination committee, which we demanded last year to review the decisions and policies. Neither the government consults any of its alliance partner before making any major decision.
But the electoral fortunes are not constant and what is today may change tomorrow. I regularly talk to other NDA partners and all of them share similar views. Let’s see what kind of realignment take shape in the future.
Has the BJP got in touch with your party to resolve the issues?
Unfortunately, they haven’t. They are well aware of our apprehensions. But as of now, there is no response from them.
So, is it another attempt by the Sena to draw attention, like it did earlier?
We always raised issues and concerns of the people. Just because we are in the government doesn’t mean that we would be silent on issues involving our people.
We are not raising our voice to get a better deal. This is something to do with our existence and politics. We need to take a stand now to decide which way we want to go in the future.