MUMBAI – Ending two months’ political suspense, the Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) and Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) entered into a brand-new ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ alliance here, coinciding with the 97th birth anniversary of the late Balasaheb Thackeray, on Monday.
Uddhav, 62, ex-Chief Minister and son of Balasaheb Thackeray, and Ambedkar, 68, the grandson of the Chief Architect of Indian Constitution Dr B. R. Ambedkar, jointly made the formal announcement of the new political tie-up intended to electrify the state political scenario, with plans to fight the upcoming BMC civic elections.
Addressing the media, Thackeray recalled how his grandfather, Keshav Sitaram, alias Prabodhankar Thackeray, and Ambedkar’s grandfather Dr B.R. Ambedkar were good friends and had followed the ideology of ‘Desh Pratham’ (Nation First).
“We are now coming together to safeguard the nation and raise the concerns of the masses. We will take decisions on the next political courses in due time,” said Thackeray.
Declaring that the BJP is trying to finish off political leadership with the help of central agencies like the ED, Ambedkar forecast that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership will end soon”, and the ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ tie-up will work to save the Constitution and Democracy.
Thackeray claimed that the new partnership has been discussed beforehand with the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies comprising Congress-Nationalist Congress Party-Sena (UBT), while Ambedkar expressed the hope that the MVA would soon accept the VBA.
The duo – Thackeray, flanked by senior leaders like MPs Sanjay Raut, Arvind Sawant and ex-minister Subhash Desai, and Ambedkar, accompanied by state president Rekha Thakur and Mumbai chief Abul Hassan Khan – expressed confidence that the new force would prove beneficial in dethroning the Bharatiya Janata Party and would work in tandem with other political parties.
Confirming that Thackeray had discussed the partnership with Ambedkar, Congress state President Nana Patole welcomed the new ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ alliance saying it will help the Opposition parties’ ambitions of dislodging the BJP in the state and Centre.
NCP leader Anil Deshmukh also welcomed the Sena (UBT)-VBA tie-up saying all parties have a right to make their alliances.
Sena (UBT) Chief Spokesperson Raut pointed out that the ‘Shiv Shakti-Bhim Shakti’ experiment had been carried out in the past and “it was the desire of the late Balasaheb Thackeray that these two forces should unite in the state”.
Asked what will be the impact of the tie-up in the upcoming civic polls, Ambedkar said it will work with other MVA parties, “will succeed and emerge victorious”.
In his first reaction, Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena (BSS) leader and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde expressed his ‘good wishes’ to the new entity, while the ally and BJP’s leaders like Union Minister Narayan Rane and state President Chandrashekhar Bawankule trashed it saying it will make no difference to the party.
Criticising the tie-up, Rane asked ‘where is the Shiv Sena’ and ‘what has Ambedkar done for Dalits’, while Bawankule predicted that the alliance will not last long. -IANS