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‘Time to show Thackeray his place’: Shah sounds bugle for BJP’s ‘Mission 150’ in Mumbai civic polls

Union home minister, in Mumbai for 2 days, tells BJP cadre to target 150 of 227 seats in BMC polls, says Uddhav 'betrayed BJP after seeking votes in names of Modi, Fadnavis'.

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Mumbai: Reminding his party’s rank and file of the Shiv Sena’s “betrayal” in 2014, Union Home Minister Amit Shah asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers Monday to hit the ground at the earliest for the upcoming Mumbai civic body polls for which he fixed a target of ‘Mission 150 seats’.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also exhorted the BJP workers to fight the civic body poll as if it was their last electoral battle.

In his address to party office bearers, ex-corporators, and MLAs, Shah  accused Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray of betrayal and asked the BJP workers to “teach him a lesson”.

“The BJP’s target is to win 150 seats in the BMC [Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation] elections. Uddhav Thackeray ditched BJP and he needs to be taught a lesson. He betrayed BJP after seeking votes in the names of Narendra Modi and Devendra Fadnavis. Time has come to show Thackeray his place,’’ said Shah.

Though the Shiv Sena has been in power in the BMC for the last five consecutive terms from 1997, the last election in 2017 was a close contest as the Shiv Sena ended with 84 seats — just two more than the BJP — in the 227-member House.

From March onwards, the Mumbai civic body is being taken care of by its commissioner I. S. Chahal after the five-year term of the BMC House ended.

Shah also said that the BJP is not to be blamed for reducing the Shiv Sena to what it is today. “The Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership has become weak and reached its present state due to its own decisions. [There is the] need to finish off the anti-Hindus politics in Maharashtra,” he added.

The Shiv Sena reacted sharply to Shah’s statement, alleging that the BJP was bent on ‘finishing off’ the regional parties. The party grew under the shadow of Sena patriarch Balasaheb Thackeray, it said.

Confirming what transcribed in the meeting that took place at Meghdoot bungalow, next to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ official residence, BJP ex-corporator Vinod Mishra told ThePrint that the talks revolved on two points.

“Amit Shah basically addressed two major points — one to keep a target of 150-plus in the Mumbai civic polls, and secondly about how Uddhav Thackeray betrayed the BJP and formed the MVA [Maha Vikas Aghadi] government,” the BJP group leader in the BMC said.

“There is still no date for the elections yet, but we are going to be ready assuming that the elections will be [held] in December.”

Also Read: BJP-Shinde camp wants a Thackeray in its corner to wear out another, takes to Ganpati diplomacy

Mission 150 

In the meeting, Shah accused Uddhav of betraying the BJP in 2014 when, according to him, the Shiv Sena broke alliance for just two seats. “Those who ditch somebody in politics never become successful. They should be punished. BJP should dominate the politics in Mumbai. Tolerate anything in politics but never tolerate betrayal.”

The Union home minister also reiterated that he had never promised to give away the chief minister’s post to the Sena and that it was decided that Fadnavis would remain the chief minister after the assembly elections in 2019.

Earlier in the day, Shah visited Mumbai’s famous Ganesh pandal Lalbaugcha Raja. This was his first visit to Maharashtra after the BJP and the Eknath Shinde faction formed the government in July.

Both Shah and Fadnavis gave confidence to the party office bearers asserting that the original Shiv Sena (read the Eknath Shinde camp) is with the party now, Mishra said.

“We will fight the elections with the Shinde camp. [And along with] those who are with the thought process of Balasaheb Thackeray. We will fight along with them.” The poll strategy would be decided later at a core committee meeting following which the message would be later passed on to booth-level workers, he added.

Later, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant told the media that the party’s ties with the BMC is “very strong”.

“Lying is in their [the BJP’s] nature. When the alliance was broken, he [Shah] was in Haryana. Why did he not come earlier? He came after 6 months. You have grown in the state by holding Balasaheb’s finger. The BJP is nothing but power hungry and wants to finish off the regional parties,” the Shiv Sena chief spokesperson said.

Another Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said that the language used by Shah was not appropriate for a leader of his stature. “If any BJP worker had used such language, it was understood. But the Union home minister using words like ‘revenge’ doesn’t suit him. The BJP gets active only during elections. It is the Shiv Sena which is on ground when it comes to solving people’s day-to-day problems,” she added.

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: Eye on BMC polls, Sena’s Shinde faction builds cadre strength in Thackeray bastion Mumbai



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