A Shiv Sena MLA has said that the party should team up with the BJP again to save its leaders from being harassed by central agencies. In a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, legislator Pratap Sarnaik has said the former allies must patch up “before it is too late”, especially for the many upcoming corporation elections, including those of Mumbai and Thane.
Mr Sarnaik, who represents Thane’s Ovala-Majiwada constituency in the state Assembly, said though the BJP and the Shiv Sena are not allies anymore, their leaders have good relations and that “we should make use of this”.
“Several central agencies are behind me and other Shiv Sena leaders like Anil Parab and Ravindra Waikar, and they and their families are being harassed,” Mr Sarnaik wrote in his letter which reached the Chief Minister’s Office on June 10.
“It is better to join hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi again as Shiv Sainiks feel that would save the Sena leaders…from problems,” he said.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had, last year, raided several properties belonging to Mr Sarnaik in connection with a money laundering case. His son, Vihang Sarnaik, too, was questioned by the agency.
The Shiv Sena, which heads the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government, had then accused the Centre of targeting the MLA.
Mr Sarnaik wrote in the letter that the Congress, which is an alliance partner in MVA, will go alone in the corporation polls, while the NCP, another alliance partner, is trying to lure and break away Shiv Sena’s own MLAs into their fold.
“Shiv Sena MLAs wonder whether the MVA has been formed, by breaking the alliance with the BJP, to help the Congress and NCP grow,” he wrote.
Reacting to Mr Sarnaik’s letter, Maharashtra BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said the Sena MLA’s suggestion stems from his fear of being jailed, PTI reported.
“All corrupt leaders of the Shiv Sena — Pratap Sarnaik, Anil Parab, Ravindra Waikar — will have to be in jail,” he said. Mr Somaiya also said he had lodged a complaint at a police station in Thane about Sarnaik going “missing” for the past 100 days, according to PTI.
The Shiv Sena ended its long-term ties with the BJP in 2019 following a dispute over power-sharing in Maharashtra. The Sena then came to power in an alliance with ideological rivals, the NCP and Congress.