MUMBAI: The faultlines in the opposition came to the fore again on Saturday, December 4, 2021, when the Shiv Sena indirectly criticized West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and NCP chief Sharad Pawar saying without the support of the Congress, no non-BJP party can provide a strong alternative to the ruling party at the Centre.
In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamna, the Sena said if “fascist forces” have to be defeated then all parties must come together and that cannot happen without Congress support. Sidelining the Congress will only help the BJP.
The Sena’s comments come three days after Banerjee’s high profile visit to Mumbai when she met Pawar and all of NCP’s ministers in the state, and also Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son, Aaditya.
After meeting Pawar, Banerjee told reporters that the UPA was dead and, without naming Rahul Gandhi, criticised him for not being serious in the fight against the BJP. She also told Pawar that non-BJP, non-Congress regional parties should be formed to fight the BJP.
‘Focus on strong alternative to BJP’
Reacting to the Sena criticism, TMC leader and MP Saugata Roy said Banerjee, too, was trying to bring all anti-BJP forces under one umbrella. “She never talked about any alliance without involving a particular anti-BJP political force, be it the Shiv Sena or the Congress,” Roy said.
A source in the Sena said given Banerjee’s unpredictable nature, Thackeray Sr avoided meeting her in Mumbai citing hospitalisation. “Uddhav Thackeray does not want to be seen hobnobbing with anti-Congress forces as he plays a lead role in the Maha Vikas Aghadi. Any unruly conduct can damage the prospect of the alliance,” the source said.
The Sena also criticised strategist Prashant Kishor, who had earlier said the Congress was always destined to get the lead role. The Sena said the decision on leading the government can be taken after the election results. At present the focus should be on giving a strong alternative.
The editorial said the Opposition should work towards making a common minimum programme. The Opposition should decide whether they want to protect their respective states or work together to defeat the BJP. The Sena said the Congress would be a game changer once it gets 100 seats in the Lok Sabha. It said those trying to form a third non-BJP, non-Congress front were weakening the Congress.