The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sena attacks ‘Kaurava’ BJP

New Delhi, Nov. 19: It will not lead to another epic Mahabharat. But Bal Thackeray’s Shiv Sena today declared war on the BJP and, of course, the Congress.

Comparing the BJP to the Kauravas, and themselves to the Pandavas, Sena leaders said like the Kauravas who refused to give even five villages to the Pandavas, the BJP has refused to leave even two winning seats in Delhi for its ally from Maharashtra.

Stung by the rejection, the Sena has fielded 27 candidates in Delhi, of which seven seats are held by the BJP.

The Sena, which dug up the pitch in the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in 1999 to stall an India-Pakistan cricket match, today lambasted the BJP for abandoning Hindutva and not fighting terrorism adequately.

The Maharashtra-based party is on an expansion spree beyond the Vindhyas. Two days ago, the party sent actor Suneil Shetty to Rajasthan to campaign for the Assembly polls in December.

The Sena is also contesting in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Sena leaders, including Union minister for heavy industries Subodh Mohite, its Lok Sabha floor leader Chandrakant Khaire, Delhi unit chief Jai Bhagwan Goel, Rajya Sabha member Eknath Thakur, Delhi pramukh Retd Gen. P.. Hoon and leaders from Punjab, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir, today held a news conference to introduce the candidates to the media.

Asked why they are not having an alliance with their longest ally, Goel said the BJP first refused to concede a single seat and when the Sena announced that it would put up candidates in all 70 seats, the BJP offered them two seats — Seelampur and Jehangirpuri. The former has 70 per cent Muslim population and the latter has never been won by the BJP, Goel added. The Sena wanted two good seats to open its account, but the BJP did not oblige, he said.

Asked on his comparing the BJP with the Kauravas, Goel said: “Whether Kauravas or Pandavas, time will tell.” But “we are Pandavas”, he stressed.

Goel said the BJP has forgotten the Hindutva issues. “But Thackeray is firm.” Khaire said the Sena’s electoral battle is against “those who are against Hindutva”. But development is also an issue, he said.

General Hoon said there should be no shaking of hands with Pakistan. “Thackeray is the only person who can fight terror. He does not want to become the Prime Minister or the President. He will never leave Hindutva cause. Our pilgrims to Amarnath is greeted with bullets and they are taxed, but Haj pilgrimage is subsidised.”

Rajya Sabha MP Thakur said: “We are not auxiliary of the BJP. We are with them only in Maharashtra and at the Centre. We have our own identity and policy.”

Both Khaire and Goel, however, christened the Congress as their “enemy No. one” while stopping short of calling the BJP the enemy No. two. “Those who are against Hindutva is enemy No. two,” they said.

Thackeray’s son Uddhav and all Parliament and Assembly members are expected to campaign for the party in Delhi and other states.

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