BJP, Sena politics over ‘Hindutva’ hots up in Maharashtra

As the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government nears one year in office, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has intensified its anti-government stand with focus on Hindutva and attempts to paint its former ally Shiv Sena as anti-Hindu.

Unperturbed by these attacks, Sena on Thursday said people in Mumbai and Maharashtra know who is the flag-bearer of ‘pure saffron’.

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, while launching the BJP’s Mission Mumbai on Wednesday, had said that his party will turn the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) into ‘pure saffron’ by dethroning Sena in 2022. For months now, the State unit of the BJP has been targeting Sena over issues related to Hindutva.

Controversy over name

Meanwhile, the video of a little-known Sena leader Nitin Nandgaonkar, asking the owner of the famous Karachi sweet shop in the western suburbs of Mumbai to remove the word Karachi from its name, went viral on Thursday, kicking up a row in political circles. The Sena was quick to distance itself and said this was not the party’s official stand. Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut took to Twitter and said, “Karachi bakery and karachi sweets have been in mumbai since last 60 years. They have nothing to do with Pakistan. It makes no sense to ask for changing their names now. Demand for changing their name is not shivsena’s official stance.”

Two months back, it held protests across the State demanding reopening temples. A newly-formed spiritual front of the BJP alleged that the Sena-led MVA government wants to open wine shops but not temples. BJP MLA Ram Kadam also recently demanded a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation into the lynching of two seers and their driver in Palghar district. The government’s decision to not allow chhath puja amid the corona pandemic is also being labelled by the BJP as anti-Hindu.

The Sena on the other hand has chosen not to counter the BJP except occasionally. Mr. Raut on Thursday left it to the people of the State to decide who carries the pure saffron flag. “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and late Balasaheb Thackeray were sensitive about saffron flag. Adulterated saffron flag will never fly high on the BMC,” said Mr. Raut.

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