‘Newcomers in BJP spoiled party’s relationship with Shiv Sena’

Mumbai:┬áTaking aim at Union minister Narayan Rane, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday said that some “newcomers’ in the BJP have spoiled the relationship between the two parties, which worked together for 25 years.

He also likened such elements to “Bangladeshi and Pakistani infiltrators, who disturb India’s social harmony”.

Earlier this week, Rane, who joined the BJP in 2019 and was inducted into the Union cabinet last month, sparked off a row with his remarks about slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for what he claimed as the latter’s ignorance of the year of India’s independence.

His remarks led to protests across the state and he was arrested from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra on Tuesday and later granted bail.

Talking to reporters here, Raut said, “BJP and Shiv Sena had difference of opinion over some issues, but our relationship never turned bitter. The leaders, who joined the BJP in the last few years, have spoiled the relationship between the two parties. Their notoriety is similar to that of Bangladeshi and Pakistani infiltrators, who disturb our social harmony here (in India).”

“We (Sena and BJP) never attacked each other or did not have such bitter relationship. The way Narayan Rane is acting, he is displaying animosity. What kind of person the BJP has appointed to improve our relationship,” Raut said sarcastically.

The Shiv Sena has worked with the BJP for 25 years, he added.

“We know that the relationship between late (Sena founder) Balasaheb Thackeray and Atalji as well as Advaniji was cordial. The relationship between Prime minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is also cordial,” Sena’s Rajya Sabha member said.

Rane, who began his political career with the Shiv Sena, became the chief minister of Maharashtra in 1999 during the BJP-Sena government. However, he was expelled from the Shiv Sena in July 2005 for “anti-party activities”.

Rane then joined the Congress and left it in 2017. After quitting the Congress, he launched the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha in October 2017. In 2018, he had declared support for the BJP and was elected to the Rajya Sabha on that party”s nomination. In October 2019, he merged his party with the BJP. He was made the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) last month in the cabinet reshuffle.