Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik has written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray suggesting that the party should join hands with former ally Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindustan Times reported on Sunday.
“Several central agencies are behind me and other Shiv Sena leaders like Anil Parab and Ravindra Waikar...They and their families are being harassed,” Sarnaik said in a letter to Thackeray, earlier this month, NDTV reported. “It is better to join hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi again as Shiv Sainiks feel that would save the Sena leaders.”
Sarnaik, who represents the Ovala-Majiwada constituency in the Maharashtra Assembly, is currently facing investigation from the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged money laundering case. In November, the central agency had raided several premises linked to Sarnaik.
Sarnaik also accused the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, allies in the Maharashtra government, of trying to weaken the coalition.
“The Congress is talking of contesting polls alone…the NCP, instead of breaking the opposition, is trying to poach leaders from the Shiv Sena and weaken it,” Sarnaik alleged.
He was referring to a remark made last week by Congress state unit chief Nana Patole, suggesting that his party will fight the 2024 Assembly elections alone. On Saturday, the party’s state in charge, HK Patil, took a more cautious approach and said that the decision will be taken by Congress’ top leadership before the elections.
Sarnaik, however, urged Thackeray to ally with the BJP ahead of crucial civic body polls to the Mumbai, Thane and other municipal corporations due next year, The Hindu reported. He added that there was resentment among Shiv Sena leaders on the decision to sever ties with the BJP after the 2019 Assembly elections in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the letter raised an important matter of harassment of the ruling alliance’s legislators, ANI reported. “An MLA has written to the chief minister,” he said. “What should I say about this? However, he has, if the letter is authentic, raised a very important issue that MLAs of Maha Vikas Aghadi are being harassed.”
He also responded to Patole’s comment, saying those who wanted to fight elections alone could do so. “Shiv Sena has fought political battles on its own,” he said. “There may be alliances in polls but battles are fought on our own. Be it an issue related to the prestige of Maharashtra or the existence of Shiv Sena, if we have to fight, we will fight.”