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'If Nitish and Lalu Can, Why Can't Partners for 25 Yrs Fight Together?' Fadnavis on Tie-up With Shiv Sena

The Maharashtra chief minister said the BJP would continue the seat-sharing arrangement with the Sena in the Lok Sabha.

Vinaya Deshpande | CNN-News18

Updated:October 29, 2018, 9:41 PM IST
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Mumbai: Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has expressed confidence in his party’s alliance with the Shiv Sena, saying if political rivals Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar could join hands in Bihar, there was no reason why partners for 25 years could not fight elections together.

Putting rumours of a rift between the tumultous allies to rest, Fadnavis on Monday said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would continue the seat-sharing arrangement with the Sena in Lok Sabha. “We will sit and decide about the state level. We will sit and find a solution. Let them ask for a chief ministerial position, we will decide,” he said.

The BJP and the Shiv Sena share a blow hot, blow cold relationship, with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray recently saying his party would fight all future polls alone. The BJP, on the other hand, has said it wants an alliance with the Sena, but is willing to fight on its own if an agreement is not reached.

Fadnavis added that “what the Sena speaks in rallies is different from ground realities” and the two parties “have taken decisions together in the last four years”.

Speaking in the run-up to the 2019 elections, the chief minister said the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ could not dent the chances of the BJP. “Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee don’t have a pan-India appeal. They have a regional appeal. People will never vote for such a fragmented Opposition. People will vote for the decisive leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.

“Mahagathbandhan is an alliance of opportunism and is made out of desperation. Even if (NCP leader) Sharad Pawar brings everyone together, which is unlikely, it will make no difference,” he added.

The Maharashtra chief minister also spoke about the controversy around the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, saying it was not an election issue. “It is an issue of faith and identity. The temple was in existence. People want to see a big Ram Mandir there,” he said.

“Who was Babar? He wasn’t an Indian. He invaded India and troubled Hindus and Muslims of that time. Prabhu Shri Ram is a deity worshipped across the country,” he said.

Commenting on the demands made by its ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to bring an ordinance on the temple, Fadnavis said there were only two ways to ensure the construction. “Either the Supreme Court completes hearing or we make a law in Parliament. Will the Congress, Communists, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad and Mamata support Ram Mandir? While making the law, numbers matter and we don’t have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha.”

Fadnavis also said looking at the evidence provided by the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) and the previous high court order, the “ruling will be 100 per cent in favour of Ram Mandir”.

The chief minister, however, clarified that the government wanted elections “only on the development plank”.

Fadnavis made his party’s stand on the Sabarimala issue clear, saying the RSS and the BJP had always been progressive and the country would not develop “until we give equal status to women”.

However, the BJP leader said people’s faith and feelings were “different matters”. “It takes time for people to change. What the Supreme Court says is correct, but what [BJP chief] Amit Shah says is also correct,” he said.

Shah had said in Kannur on Saturday that the party was “firmly” with the devotees of Lord Ayyappa and “warned” the Pinarayi Vijayan government over “ill-treatment” meted out to them during the recent monthly pooja at the temple.

“Today in Kerala, a struggle is going on between religious beliefs and state government’s cruelty. More than 2,000 activists and workers from the BJP, RSS and other organisations have been arrested. The BJP is standing like a rock with devotees, Left government be warned,” he had said, adding that BJP workers “would not hesitate to pull down the government”.

Looking for a conciliatory approach on the contentious issue, Fadnavis said, “In Shani Shingnapur, we were able to tell people that there was no bar on entry of women. People accepted it. The mandate of the court and people's sentiments were respected. We need to find a way in Sabarimala where court mandate and people's sentiments are matched.”

He also spoke about the Bhima-Koregaon issue, saying “pseudo-liberals had approached SC but the court ruled in our favour. Pseudo liberals should understand, it is about taking action on a voice which is against the country. It is a criminal act, it is an act against the country. We will take action. This is waging war against the country”.

He added that only his government had the courage to act against the Sanatan Sanstha. “The organisation has been operational since the Congress era. Could they dare to take action? We dared.”

“Whether it is extreme right or extreme Left, whoever is against the country, I will take action. It is our Rajdharma,” he added.

Fadnavis also attacked the Congress for spreading lies and trying to dent the credibility of PM Modi. He added that there was no question of the Modi wave ebbing as it had “translated into credibility”. “People will vote for Modi again and again and again. From 2014 to 2018, strike rate of BJP is 90 per cent. It isn't about wave. It is about credibility and faith.”

He added, “The Rafale controversy hasn’t dented the PM's credibility. In utter desperation, Congress is spreading lies. PM Modi's credibility is very high. Even those who consider Rafale an issue have overwhelmingly said, ‘Modi can't take wrong decision’.”

| Edited by: Apoorva Misra
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