Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday asked his loyalists not to support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in any way in the upcoming Kasba Peth and Chinchwad Assembly by-polls in the Pune district, alleging that the ruling party was trying to destroy the Shiv Sena. Delivering a virtual speech as part of a campaign for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) candidates contesting these by-elections, Thackeray also hit out at the BJP for "bringing" the party's ailing Pune MP Girish Bapat for campaigning in Kasba constituency.
"It is the height of cruelty and inhuman behavior to see Girish Bapat, who is ailing, being involved in campaigning,'' Thackeray said. Bypolls to the Kasba Peth and Chinchwad constituencies, scheduled to be held on February 26, were necessitated following the death of sitting MLAs Mukta Tilak and Laxman Jagtap respectively. Both of them were from the BJP. Mukta Tilak belonged to the family of freedom fighters and social reformer Lokmanya Tilak.
Thackeray wondered why the BJP has not fielded any member of the Lokmanya Tilak family for the Kasba bypoll. The BJP has given candidature to Hemant Rasane for this seat. The former chief minister asked his supporters not to show any sympathy to the BJP and not to vote for it as it is trying to destroy the Shiv Sena by engineering a split. "We did vote for BJP when we were in alliance. But although we were against Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), these parties never targeted us the way BJP is doing now," he said.
The MVA sympathizes with BJP's Chinchwad by-poll candidate Ashwini Jagtap, wife of late MLA Laxman Jagtap. Thackeray also highlighted the allegations of corruption in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation currently ruled by the BJP."The MVA was called an autorickshaw and your government is called a double engine. But the engine just blows steam in the air," he said.