'Marathi asmita' issue not Shiv Sena's monopoly, asserts BJP

Amid indication of Shiv Sena aggressively pushing its original "sons-of-the-soil" agenda in run up to Maharashtra Assembly polls, BJP on Friday asserted that 'marathi asmita' and king Shivaji could not be monopolised by its estranged ally or any other party.

Pune: Amid indication of Shiv Sena aggressively pushing its original "sons-of-the-soil" agenda in run up to Maharashtra Assembly polls, BJP on Friday asserted that 'marathi asmita' and king Shivaji could not be monopolised by its estranged ally or any other party.

A day after the split in the saffron alliance, Sena today lashed out at BJP, calling it "enemy of Maharashtra" and signalled a return to its original "marathi asmita' (marathi pride) plank for the October 15 polls.

"Pride of Mumbai and Marathi is not the monopoly of Shiv Sena or Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). This issue is whipped up to garner votes. We are a national party but we too have fought for Marathi," senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse told a local news channel.

Replying to questions on Maharashtra elections, Khadse said, "It was our leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee who named Mumbai's city's airport after Chhatrapati Shivaji during his tenure as Prime Minister."

"Vajpayee also inaugurated a Shivaji statue in front of Parliament House and unveiled a five rupee coin embossed with Shivaji image," he said.

A few days back, in what appeared to be carefully orchestrated political one-up-manship, state BJP president Devendra Fadnavis had raised the popular Shiv Sena slogan "Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji" at a rally addressed by party president Amit Shah in Pune.

Khadse said Shiv Sena was a regional party but there should not be any injustice to other social segments while protecting the "marathi asmita".

The Leader of Opposition in Assembly, seen as a frontline aspirant of BJP for the post of Chief Minister if the party came to power, however, said that it was a painful announcement for him to make on breaking of the 25-year-old Sena-BJP alliance.

He rejected a suggestion that BJP was practicing "a use and throw" policy in regard to smaller parties of now disintegrated 'mahayuti' (grand alliance) for its political gains.

"Actually, our alliance with the Sena broke because we insisted on a fair deal to our smaller partners," he said.  

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