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It is betrayal by Shiv Sena: Munde

Wednesday 27 June 2007

Special Correspondent

He sees deal with Congress in Maharashtra

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday charged the Shiv Sena with “betrayal” and called it “anti-national” and “anti-Hindutva,” as cracks showed up in the National Democratic Alliance following the Sena’s decision to support the Congress-backed Presidential candidate Pratibha Patil in preference to the BJP-supported Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

BJP general secretary Gopinath Munde told reporters here that the Sena not only betrayed its oldest ideological alliance partner but also struck a “deal with the Congress” in Maharashtra politics.

He faulted the Sena’s ‘Maratha pride’ argument for supporting Ms. Patil, who hails from the State, pointing out that it did not apply the same reasoning when it voted for Mr. Shekhawat against the Congress-backed “Maharashtrian” Sushil Kumar Shinde in the 2002 election for Vice-President.

Maharashtra BJP president Nitin Gadkari hinted that the Sena decision could spell the end of the alliance between the parties, but NDA spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said the party would talk about the issue only “after the presidential election was over.”

Conscience vote

The NDA game plan to get votes from across the political divide seems to have misfired, with some allies ready to give their “conscience vote” to Ms. Patil. Ms. Swaraj admitted that Trinamool Congress leaders had not yet signed the nomination in favour of Mr. Shekhawat.

There are reports that the Trinamool – with an eye on the 2009 Lok Sabha poll – may not want its “conscience vote” cast for the BJP-backed candidate.

The same is true of some parties in the newly launched United National Progressive Alliance.

RSS membership

Asked whether Mr. Shekhawat had resigned his membership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Ms. Swaraj said, “As such, there is no membership of the RSS.” But she brushed aside the point, made by a correspondent, that the Janata Party Government fell in 1977 on the issue of “dual membership” of the Janata Party and the RSS.

At the BJP national executive committee meeting here on Tuesday, Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani talked about a “pliant” President “loyal” to the Nehru-Gandhi family and the possibility of a “tainted” President occupying the Rashtrapati Bhavan – a reference to Ms. Patil and the charges made against her by the NDA.

See online : The Hindu

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