The Shiv Sena on Monday attacked its alliance partner the Bharatiya Janata Party for allegedly using the sacrifices of soldiers in electioneering. The Shiv Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana, said those who wear Army uniforms while campaigning or use photographs of Army personnel on their posters, are just as wrong as parties that demand proof of the Indian Air Force’s strikes in Balakot, Pakistan.

There have been recent instances of BJP posters featuring photographs of Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, while Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari last week campaigned wearing an Army uniform. The Shiv Sena on Monday labelled Tiwari’s stunt “vulgar politics”, contending that individuals who wish to join the Army, Navy or Indian Air Force have to undergo rigorous training, and be ready to sacrifice their lives for the country.

“Nationalism cannot be the preserve of a particular leader or political party,” the Shiv Sena said. “If anybody feels it is, they are insulting the people. There can be differences in political opinions, but branding those who ask questions as anti-national is wrong.”

The Shiv Sena accused “certain political parties” of taking credit for the air strikes following the Pulwama attack, instead of crediting the Indian Air Force. “BJP and some other political parties are using Abhinandan’s images in their election posters, congratulating themselves,” the party added. It said these displays provide fodder to the Opposition to criticise the ruling party.

The Shiv Sena lamented the fact that the Election Commission had to step in to ask political parties not to use photos of armed forces in poll campaigns. “We failed to prevent the casualties of our soldiers, but some wear the camouflage and campaign for political reasons,” it said. “It doesn’t look good when the Election Commission has to intervene.”

On February 20, the BJP and Shiv Sena announced an alliance for the Lok Sabha elections. The Shiv Sena had earlier said it would contest the polls in Maharashtra alone.