The Shiv Sena has joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress to form a coalition government in Maharashtra, but the party will never abandon the Hindutva ideology, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asserted in the state assembly on Sunday, a day after sailing through a floor test.
"I am still with the Hindutva ideology and I won't ever give it up," news agency ANI quoted Uddhav Thackeray as saying.
The Chief Minister's statement comes after claims by the BJP that the Shiv Sena has compromised its core ideology by allying with the Congress-NCP combine. "The Shiv Sena's Hindutva now rests at the feet of (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi. Everyone is seeing this," former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had said at a press conference earlier this week.
Mr Fadnavis commented that the alliance between the three parties would act as a three-wheeler that has wheels moving in opposite directions. "It will be a very unstable government because they have huge ideological differences," he predicted.
The alliance between the ideologically mismatched parties was sealed after days of discussions, after Mr Thackeray's Shiv Sena agreed to a common minimum programme which states that the alliance partners "commit to uphold secular values enshrined in the constitution." Its preamble also says: "On the contentious issue of national importance especially having repercussions/consequences on the secular fabric of the nation, the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress will take a joint view after holding consultations and arriving at a consensus."
During his first press meet after being sworn in as the Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray parried a query on whether his party's decision to tie up with the Congress and NCP amounted to the Shiv Sena accepting secularism. "What does secular mean? It is what's written in the Constitution," he asked in return.
Uddhav Thackeray also appeared to reach out to Devendra Fadnavis, who has been elected as the leader of the opposition, in his state assembly address on Sunday. "I have learnt a lot of things from Devendra Fadvanis and I will always be friends with him. In the past five years, I have never betrayed the government," he said.
However, Uddhav Thackeray's compliment was not without a well-aimed jab at his former ally. "I won't call you (Devendra Fadnavis) an 'opposition leader', I will instead call you a 'responsible leader'. If you had been good to us then, all this (BJP-Shiv Sena split) would not have happened," he said, referring to the BJP's rejection of the Shiv Sena's demand for rotational chief ministership when they were allies.
(With inputs from ANI)