Even as BJP leaders fanned out across the country on Tuesday to hardsell the Narendra Modi government’s achievements in its first year in office, oldest ally Shiv Sena remained silent on the performance of the NDA regime.
Though there was no official word from the Sena leadership, the party apparently feels the anniversary celebrations are a BJP affair.
A Sena MP, speaking on condition of anonymity, said BJP has never consulted his party on crucial issues like the Jaitapur nuclear power project, land bill, GST Bill and other important matters.
"It has all been about the BJP in the last one year.
They have followed a dictatorial attitude and they expect their allies to blindly follow the decisions," the Sena MP told PTI.
Though a long-time ally of the BJP and partner in Maharashtra government led by Devendra Fadnavis as well as at the Centre, Sena has often been critical of the policies of both the state and the Union Government.
Their partnership has been marked by severe strain after the two saffron parties parted ways and fought each other in last year’s assembly polls in Maharashtra although political compulsions soon made Sena to join the ministry.
According to political observers, Sena and BJP entered into a ‘marriage of convienence’as both the parties had been out of power for 15 years in Maharashtra and could not risk losing control over cash-rich the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), whose annual budget is about Rs 35,000 crore.
However, despite sharing power, they have often been at loggerheads, especially Sena’s mouthpiece "Saamana" coming out with stinging editorials targetting BJP, sparing not even Modi.
The strains in the relationship were visible right from the start with Sena failing to get the portfolios of its choice as BJP asserted its supremacy.
Since then, Sena has been openly critcising the BJP-led dispensation over a host of issues ranging from farmers’ suicide to Jaitapur nuclear power plant.
While Fadnavis stood firm on going ahead with the Jaitapur project, the Sena has vehemently kept up its resistance, contending that the plant would pose a grave threat to the people living in the ecologically fragile region.
Known for its agressive posturing, Sena appears to have made it a habit to mock its ally whenever it ran into adverse situations like the humilating defeat in the Delhi Assembly polls.
Meanwhile, Anant Geete, the only Union Minister from Shiv Sena, however praised the Modi government over its performance in the first year.
The Union Minister for Heavy Industries, who shared the dias with BJP leaders while addressing ‘Jankalyan Parva’, a meeting of Sena-BJP workers here said, "The government is moving on the right track to realise the Prime Minister’s dream of placing India in top ten countries."
Geete said Sena’s opposition to the Jaitapur nuclear is mainly on the safety aspect.
"We are concerned only about the safety aspect. Jaitapur is an earthquake-prone area and we should learn some lessons from accidents in nuclear plants in Japan and Russia. World over nuclear power plants are being phased out because of inherent dangers of radiation and terror strikes. Each plant is equal to a nuclear bomb," he said.
"That is the reason we do not want that plant in our state. But the party is not against nuclear power or development," he said.
On the Land Bill, he said the Sena wanted to retain the consent clause to protect farmers’ interests.
The process for launching solar plant of the Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) will be finalised within two months, he said adding, "All the necessary clearances have been approved now," he said.
BJP MP Ajay Sancheti, Sena MP Kripal Tumane were present at the meeting.