Union minister Narayan Rane on Thursday claimed the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) will not win more than five seats in the Maharashtra Assembly elections due next year.
Taking a dig at Uddhav Thackeray for meeting leaders of various political parties to garner support, Rane told reporters here that Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray never visited offices or residences of other political leaders.
Amid Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push for implementation of a Uniform Civil Code in the country, Rane said the central government has done many things for tribals and to help entrepreneurs from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.
"I firmly believe that we will be able to convince them on this issue," the minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises said in reply to a question.
Rane was here to address the media over the completion of nine years of the BJP-led central government under PM Modi.
After the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls, Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (then undivided) snapped ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and forged an alliance with the NCP and Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
In June last year, Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde led a revolt against the party leadership. This led to a split in the party and collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government.
On June 30, 2022, Shinde was sworn in as the CM with the BJP's support.
Talking to reporters here, Rane said, "The BJP and Eknath Shinde's government is going strong in Maharashtra. Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena is now left with only 13-14 MLAs. Their numbers will go down to less than five MLAs after the 2024 Assembly elections."
Unlike Uddhav Thackeray, Balasaheb Thackeray, in his entire lifetime, never visited any political leader's residence or office. claimed Rane, who was in the past a member of the Shiv Sena and Congress before joining the BJP.
At present, the Shiv Sena (faction under Uddhav) has lost its significance, the former Maharashtra CM further claimed.
Rane expressed confidence that the BJP will once again come to power at the Centre by winning more than 400 seats (out of the total 543) in the Lok Sabha elections due next year.
Asked if the UCC issue will be at the centre of BJP's poll campaign in 2024, Rane said the decision will be taken by the party leadership.
Since several tribal organisations are against the implementation of UCC and have already expressed their concerns, Rane said the central government will try to win them over on the issue.
"Our government has done many things for tribals. My MSME ministry had also launched schemes to help and support entrepreneurs from the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities. Thus, I firmly believe that we will be able to convince them on this issue," Rane said.
Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday pushed for implementation of a Uniform Civil Code.
Even the Supreme Court has advocated for the UCC, but those practising vote bank politics are opposing it, Modi said and asked how the country can have two systems, touching upon an issue closely identified with the BJP, with less than a year left for the Lok Sabha polls.
The prime minister said the Opposition is using the issue of UCC, which relates to a common law pertaining to marriage, divorce, inheritance, maintenance and succession of property for all citizens, to mislead and provoke the Muslim community.