01 May 2017 | Last updated 12:19 AM

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Sena versus BJP: A clash of different political cultures
Rohit Chandavarkar | Saturday, 18 February 2017 AT 09:24 PM IST
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The mega campaign war being played out in the media by former alliance partners in Maharashtra’s civic elections is nothing but a clash of two different political cultures! Many political analysts earlier predicted that perhaps this war was only a drama and posturing by the two sides. But now insiders confirm that the clash is genuine and the attempts to finish the opposite side are not a make-belief drama.

The senior leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at national-level got embarrassed on Thursday when asked about the petition filed by a state-level BJP spokesperson asking the State Election Commission to impose a ban on the publication of Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana. Union Minister Venkaiya Naidu had to come out with a statement in Pune that the BJP does not believe in banning any newspaper and this demand by some section of his party was totally wrong.

However, the political damage has been done. The Sena is furious when it learnt that the BJP has approached the EC with such a demand. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is also the Editor of Saamana, was furious over the issue. “Devendra Fadnavis will soon become a former chief minister. The BJP is completely drunk on power, they have lost balance, they will be taught a lesson by the people of Maharashtra,” said Raut during his campaign in Nagpur.

Though they came together on the Hindutva plank over 25 years ago and stayed together in pursuit of power, it is now becoming obvious how the Shiv Sena and BJP have huge cultural differences. Balasaheb Thackeray formed the Shiv Sena in 1966 with the help of a group of typical ‘street fighters,’ including men and women who were the local toughies of their areas.

They would go out of the way to help citizens in their hour of need, attend to their medical emergencies, provide financial assistance during crisis, provide support to the citizens of the area in every way when they were in distress. So in that sense, Sena was a party of ‘street-fighters’ while the BJP emerged as a very disciplined and cadre-based party, which was driven by ideology. Obviously, these two cultures are not able to sustain with each other anymore and the result is being seen right now out on the field.

It only remains to be seen whether political compulsion forces these two parties to come together again to form the local self-government in the municipal corporation in Mumbai because that’s what happened just over a year ago in Kalyan-Dombivali municipal polls. The BJP’s Maharashtra State President Raosaheb Danve has indicated that the bickering between Sena and BJP is only an election season phenomenon. If that statement turns out to be true, perhaps we will see these two partners coming together but if either one gets a large number of seats with a huge margin over the other, then they would continue the clash further and ultimately split.

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