By Quaid jmi
As the second alliance government of the BJP-Shiv Se combine, formed in Maharashtra after a brief period of bickering between the partners of 25 years, completes 75 days in power Friday, it is clear that the Shiv Se has sharpened its attack on the BJP.
The short journey since December 5 has already proven to be too long, and in large measure, quite irritable for senior partner BJP, thanks to the unending supply of Shiv Se's poisoned darts mercilessly fired through its party mouthpiece - Saama and Dopahar Ka Saama - in Marathi and Hindi respectively.
Since the days of the founder-patriarch of the Shiv Se, the late Bal Thackeray, all political parties dreaded his barbs - both verbal and through the edit columns of the two dailies.
The trend continues ubated, but seems to hurt its coalition partner Bharatiya Jata Party now more than ever before almost as if Saama has donned the role of 'the main opposition' in Maharashtra.
In recent times, Shiv Se, through Saama, has been at the forefront of criticizing senior BJP leaders, from Prime Minister rendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, certain cabinet ministers, Chief Minister Devendra Fadvis and select team members, as well as the BJP brand of politics.
The party did not shy away from commenting on Modi's controversial monogrammed suit which is now up for auction, the centre's economic policies, taking foreign VVIPs to Gujarat in a bid to overshadow Maharashtra or even the BJP's planned adventure in the ongoing Bihar political crisis.
The latest dart virtually compelled Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas qvi to clarify in Mumbai recently that the BJP was "keeping off" the affairs in Bihar and would wait for the elections to secure the peoples' mandate.
The story is the same in Maharashtra where it bitterly criticized plans to carve out a separate Vidarbha state - the BJP's declared agenda in pursuance of its small states policy, an alleged move to sever Mumbai and reducing its economic importance and the latest on crime situation following the brutal attack on senior Communist leader Govind Pansare in Kolhapur this week.
The last one also hit the bull's eye as Fadvis happens to wield the critical home portfolio.
A state BJP leader, requesting anonymity, conceded that the Shiv Se barbs through its mouthpieces "hurt badly", but there was little it could do, as other larger issues like freedom of expression and media were involved.
"Everybody has a right to air grievances, but in appropriate forums. At various levels, we have requested the Shiv Se leadership to take us into confidence before going public with its grievances," the BJP leader said.
In recent weeks, however, some BJP leaders have also hit back at the Shiv Se in their individual capacity, much to the latter's constertion and the glee of the left-over opposition parties.
For instance, after the Se's bitter criticism of Modi recently over the debacle in the Delhi elections, a couple of senior BJP leaders disgustedly asked its partner to "first quit government before criticizing" the prime minister.
The Shiv Se's proposal to revive Mumbai's legendary night-life and its 24x7 entertainment, put forth by youth leader Aditya Thackeray, attracted BJP opposition with advice to include even vada-paav and paav-bhaji vendors in the proposition.
BJP state spokesperson Madhav Bhandari termed 'Saama' as "behaving like a self-appointed Leader of Opposition", and said its displeasure has been expressed to the Shiv Se in private and public.
"We are clear this (alliance) is an 'adjustment' only to run the government, nothing else... In the past 15 years or so, views were aired through its in-house media, it continues even now... It appears to be a planned strategy on their part," Bhandari told IANS.
Ostensibly attempting to provide an altertive platform to Shiv Se to air its views and grievances, the BJP has set up a 'Co-ordition Committee' between the two parties - something that existed during the previous Congress-tiolist Congress Party regimes.
But the BJP's honourable intention has not escaped the stick even on this count as ally Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athawale vociferously demanded that all the other smaller parties in the 'Grand Alliance' must be included in the Co-ordition Committee.
"The BJP must not take its allies for granted in this manner... They must remember Delhi example... The masses have other options available now... The smaller allies should not be dismisses casually," RPI spokesperson Mayur Borkar commented on the frustrations experienced by the party.
Now, watch out for the next edition of the Saama and Dopahar Ka Saama. IANS
(Quaid jmi can be contacted at email@example.com)