The renewal of the tottering alliance between the BJP and its cantankerous ally Shiv Sena was greeted by a tweet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this evening. The Congress, smarting over the Prime Minister's remarks about the opposition alliance being an "adulterated" one (Mahamilavat), lost no time to retaliate.
"Just a few of the times Shiv Sena has criticised the Modi govt., even as recently as today. This is BJP's idea of a holy alliance," the Congress posted from its Twitter handle.
The tweet was accompanied by a few instances of Sena's acerbic criticism of the government.
The subjects ranged from Rafale deal to jobs for youth and the recent terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.
The announcement of the tie-up today had been preceded by a series of meetings between BJP chief Amit Shah and Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray. There was a last-minute one today before the evening's press conference.
Over the last year, the Sena had been vocal about ending its alliance with the BJP. The two parties had contested separately in the civic elections in February 2017. But the BJP had got the better of the Sena in the contest, in which the big prize was the control of the country's richest municipality, the Brihanmumbai Corporation.
Since then, Sena had amped-up its anti-BJP stance, playing the in-house opposition within the NDA at every opportunity. It had even repeatedly praised Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and rebuked the BJP for targeting him on every occasion.
The BJP hinted that the alliance was a matter of political compulsion in face of the opposition alliance.
Admitting that the wo parties had "differences", Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the feeling in the country was that they should come together "when some people are coming together and trying to challenge us". BJP chief Amit Shah said the workers of both parties wanted an alliance. And in his tweet, PM Modi said the decision "strengthens the NDA significantly".
Yesterday, Congress ally HD Kumaraswamy had also made some scathing remarks about alliances forged by the BJP, pointing particularly at the one with Nitish Kumar in Bihar and the one in the works with Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK.