Uddhav Thackeray to address Shiv Sena leaders today, may signal future of alliance with BJP

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will address party workers and leaders today to set the tone for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Thackeray’s speech at the conclave of the Sena’s Sthaniya Lokadhikar Samiti (SLS) Mahasangh is expected to give an indication of his party’s position on an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and will also give a direction to party workers.

The SLS is a key Sena body, which turns 45 this year, and the conclave is aimed to mobilise the office-bearers of the Mahasangh before the general elections. The SLS has 350 units with members in Central government organisations, Central government undertakings, state government bodies, nationalised banks, insurance sector, oil companies, and railways port, among others. The SLS started as a movement to seek employment for the ‘sons of the soil’ in the state, but it also aides the Sena in electioneering before polls.

Thackeray is expected to address around 10,000 people of the Mahasangh today on the way forward for the party, according to Gajanan Kirtikar, president of the SLS Mahasangh. “Those affiliated with the SLS spread the word about the party and its work, strengthen our election machinery, they visit people’s houses to understand their issues and challenges. Uddhavji’s address to them is crucial this year as it is an election year. He is expected to give us a guideline to go about our planning,” Kirtikar, who is also a member of parliament from Mumbai North West constituency, said.

Anil Desai, Sena secretary and general secretary of SLS Mahasangh, said the Mahasangh has been instrumental in Sena’s political success. During elections, all these white collar workers go to the every corner of Maharashtra and carry out tasks assigned to them. They keep a low profile and work for the party. It has been helping the Shiv Sena in elections a lot,” Desai said. He added that the SLS conducts surveys to “understand the pulse of the people on the ground” and then reports are submitted to Thackeray.

Kirtikar said Thackeray is expected to reiterate the party’s stand to go solo in the upcoming elections. Desai said, “He will speak on the current political scenario. The recent happenings in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and what the BJP government is doing.” A senior Sena leader said, “He is unlikely to speak about the alliance. He will speak about it at an appropriate time.”

Sena criticises Modi govt over Alok Verma episode

The Shiv Sena on Saturday targeted the Narendra Modi-government after the reinstated CBI director Alok Verma resigned. The Sena called the ouster of Verma as a panic reaction by the Central government that is facing allegation in the Rafale fighter jet deal. In an editorial titled ‘the end of CBI’ in party mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena said that the government has set “wrong precedents” by denying Verma an opportunity to defend himself.

Verma was reinstated on January 8 by the Supreme Court after he was divested of his powers and sent on administrative leave over corruption allegations three months back. Verma resigned a day after he was transferred from the position of CBI chief to director general, fire services, Civil Defence and Home Guards under the home ministry. “Did the fear in the mind of some (people) that Verma would make a case against the government in the Rafale deal led to his immediate ouster?” Sena asked.

First Published: Jan 13, 2019 09:58 IST

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