Shiv Sena Threatens to Break Alliance With Congress After Remarks by Rahul Gandhi

© AP Photo / Rajanish KakadeShiv Sena party supporters celebrate in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019
Shiv Sena party supporters celebrate in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.11.2022
Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and Congress are poles apart as far as ideology is concerned. While the Sena is a Hindu nationalist party, India's main opposition party is considered a center-left political outfit that has often showcased its secular credentials.
In a sharp escalation of tensions between the Shiv Sena and the Congress over Rahul Gandhi's recent remarks against Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the former threatened to sever its ties with the latter on Friday.
"Uddhav [Thackeray] ji may make a statement. In the morning, Sanjay Raut made a statement saying we may not continue in the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition). That's a serious reaction from the party. What more do you want?" Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant told media on Friday.
The Sena's warning came days after Congress parliamentarian Rahul Gandhi called Savarkar a "coward" during a public event in Maharashtra state, where Sena chief Thackeray was sharing the stage with him.
Indian hief of Hindu nationalist 'Shiv Sena' party Uddhav Thackeray speaks during the road show of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah in Ahmedabad on March 30, 2019. - - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.11.2022
Shiv Sena Chief Criticizes Rahul Gandhi's Remark About Freedom Fighter Vinayak Savarkar
Savarkar was a key figure in India's freedom struggle against the British, credited with popularizing the Hindutva political ideology in the country. Parties like the federally governing BJP and the Shiv Sena draw inspiration from his thoughts.
Thackeray's father Bal Thackeray was himself a Hindutva mascot and a long-time Congress opponent.
Despite this, however, Uddhav Thackeray allied with Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after ending a three-decade association with the BJP to form a government in Maharashtra in 2019. Since then, the Shiv Sena has been accused of ditching its Hindutva legacy.
The Sena's 2019 alliance with the Congress and the NCP even led to a split within the party in June, with Uddhav Thackeray's aide-turned-foe Eknath Shinde walking out with the majority of lawmakers with him.
Shinde eventually went on to form a government with the help of the BJP and is the current state chief of Maharashtra.
On the other hand, Thackeray is only left with a handful of state legislators and MPs on his side.
Nonetheless, the two factions, led by Shinde and Thackeray respectively, are still fighting to claim the party symbol and name, which have been frozen by the Election Commission of India for the time being.
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