Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil on Wednesday asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to guard against the Congress'' "conspiracy" to "win away" the Shiv Sena from its Hindutva agenda and allow the Raj Thackeray-led MNS to fill the saffron vacuum in the state.
In remarks viewed as an attempt to placate the former ally of his party, Mr Patil hailed the Sena's role "in protecting Hindus during communal riots and the Marathi manoos in Mumbai" as a "well-wisher" of the Thackeray-led party.
"The Congress is taking the Shiv Sena away from Hindutva and the MNS is being allowed to fill the Hindutva space as part of a conspiracy. The chief minister should understand this plan," Mr Patil said.
The Congress and the NCP are constituents in the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government. Mr Patil, however, said the BJP welcomes the MNS taking up the Hindutva agenda.
"As a well-wisher of the Shiv Sena and as a Mumbaikar, I feel that it was because of the Sena that Marathi manoos survived in Mumbai. It was because of the Sena that Hindus survived, as shiv sainiks came out to protect people during numerous riots," the BJP leader said.
Calling himself a "fan" of the Sena, Mr Patil said the Congress was attempting to take the Thackeray-led party away from Hindutva, and attempting to fit the MNS in that space.
Indirectly referring to the new saffron flag of the MNS which was unveiled last month, Mr Patil said, "there are some invisible people working behind designing the new flag and other things...CM Thackeray should understand this plan".
Mr Patil also questioned Mr Thackeray's statement in an interview that he had not abandoned Hindutva by joining hands with the NCP and the Congress to form a government.
"Uddhav Thackeray is trying to convince people by saying that the Sena has not given up Hindutva. If you really have not given up Hindutva, then why are you not demanding Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar, and (not) supporting the CAA?" he questioned.
Mr Thackeray has in fact said that the new citizenship law was not aimed at taking away anybody's citizenship.
However, he has opposed the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Mr Patil also questioned the "Hindutvavadi" Sena's "silence" on VD Savarkar being dubbed "homosexual".
A controversial booklet on Savarkar and the RSS, allegedly distributed in an All India Congress Seva Dal training camp run by the Congress in Bhopal, had claimed that Savarkar had a physical relationship with Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.
Meanwhile, Mr Patil expressed satisfaction over the Supreme Court on Wednesday refusing to stay the Bombay High Court order upholding a Maharashtra law granting reservation to Marathas in education and jobs.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)