A day after Shiromani Akali Dal, the oldest ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, left the National Democratic Alliance a meeting between the former Maharashtra BJP chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut sparked off fresh speculations in the political circles. However, later Raut, tried to downplay this development by stating that the meeting was actually a part of interview for Saamna, the mouthpiece of Shiv Sena and added that on the personal level his party and BJP leaders have, off and on, sat together.
“In Maharashtra we are not enemies…We have no personal differences , we might have disagreement on ideological issues. Even NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would exchange views on several issues…We also consider Narendra Modi as our leader,” he said. Raut, while commenting on the latest development in Punjab, said that he does not consider that NDA exists any more after the exit of Shiv Sena and Akali Dal.
“We were the oldest allies of the BJP since 1996 and have been partners whether we lose election or win it. Rest of the parties had joined it only for remaining in power. So the NDA does not exist,” he minced no words to make his party’s stand clear. The Shiv Sena leader made it amply clear that they were meeting publicly and not secretly, therefore, not much political meaning should be attached to it. Raut’s clarification notwithstanding the meeting between the two leaders was bound to be interpreted in different ways.
This in particular because, of late, both the former friends have strongly been critical of each other, especially issues related to Sushant Singh Rajput and subsequent developments. The BJP had strongly criticised the demolition of the house of film actress Kangana Ranaut after she took a very strong stand against the Shiv Sena led government.
Meanwhile, on Saturday Shiromani Akali Dal announced its decision to quit the NDA. After an emergency meeting held under the chairmanship of party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, a statement was issued which said: Because of the Centre’s stubborn refusal to give statutory legislative guarantees to protect assured marketing of farmers crops on MSP and its continued insensitivity to Punjabi and Sikh issues like excluding Punjabi language as official language in Jammu and Kashmir.
Punjab Assembly election is going to take place in early 2022 and SAD’s decision to part ways is likely to weaken BJP in the state, where the Congress is still going very strong.