MUMBAI: The BJP is hoping that the letter war between governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray over reopening of religious places in the state would come as a shot in its arm as it is all set to contest Shiv Sena‘s Hindutva credentials, political analysts said on Wednesday.
Although Thackeray heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) regime with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP and the Congress Party in tow, he keeps reinvoking the Sena’s saffron agenda at periodic intervals, much to the chagrin of his two power partners — and also the BJP and a section in the Sena, said a political expert.
He recalled that Thackeray was keen on attending the Ayodhya function where Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the Ram temple.
Thackeray is likely to visit Ayodhya sometime in November, sources said. “Thackeray thinks he can keep the BJP in good humour by blowing the Hindutva trumpet from time to time. We want to call his bluff. He can’t sing two different tunes in the same breath. If he has chosen to break bread with NCP-Congress he should remain loyal to the MVA’s secular agenda and stop paying lip service to Hindutva,” said a city BJP MLA.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, “We need not take lessons from the BJP on Hindutva.” With the Sena showing no indication of quitting the MVA, the BJP has no choice but to reiterate its copyright on Hindutva, said a former civil servant. “The BJP can keep its Hindutva votebank intact if it shows the Sena as villain of the Hindutva movement,” he added.
Pointing out that the MMR will witness a slew of civic elections in 2021-22, a senior BJP politician said, “This is going to be a kind of mini-referendum which will determine the popularity of Sena-BJP, although with conflicting poll agendas. The reopening of temples is an emotive issue which will help us poach on Sena’s votebank in the region,” he added.
But BJP strategists are a tad worried if Koshyari had, while writing to the CM, overstepped his limit as the state’s constitutional head. “It is true that the governor has been showing far greater interest in state politics. The BJP’s middle-class voters may not take kindly to the governor’s recent pronouncements,” said a member of BJP’s think tank.