Hours before Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s meeting with BJP president Amit Shah, the party mouthpiece Saamna criticised its ally’s outreach programme ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ and reiterated that it would contest the 2019 polls “independently”.
An editorial ‘Saamana’ on Wednesday questioned the reason behind Shah’s meetings with the NDA allies and pointed to the BJP’s poor performance in the Lok Sabha and Assembly bypolls. “The Shiv Sena showed its strength in the Palghar bypoll. In such a situation, the 2019 Lok Sabha polls can be one reason behind the BJP chief’s Sampark Abhiyan,” the editorial said.
Making fun of the BJP, the Sena said the party has launched a global outreach programme, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a world tour and Shah on a domestic one. “The BJP has lost sampark [contact] with the people of the country, and it should introspect why it has happened,” the Marathi daily said, pointing out that the BJP won just one of the four Lok Sabha seats and one of the 10 Assembly seats where bypolls were held in May.
In the Palghar bypoll, the Sena had for the first time fielded a candidate for a seat held by its ally. It lost the sea to the BJP, but Thackeray refused to term the results a defeat for his party, instead blaming malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, and making cash-for-votes complaints against the BJP’s workers.
In 2019, “a change of power is certain” in Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh after the Assembly elections, the editorial went on to claim, and mocked Shah, who has pledged to build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya if the BJP wins 350 Lok Sabha seats on its own.
The editorial also remarked that the BJP makes “businessman-like calculations about whom to stay in touch with and whom not to”.
The meeting between the two leaders is scheduled to be held at Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s residence in Matoshree, Bandra (east), on Wednesday evening.