The ad prompted Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut to call the party “Modi-Shah’s Shiv Sena”, while Shiv Sena leader and school education minister Deepak Kesarkar said the Opposition is “jealous” as Shinde and Fadnavis are working like “brothers”.
The advertisement carries Sena’s bow-and-arrow symbol and images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and CM Shinde. It has no image or photo of Shiv Sena founder late Balasaheb Thackeray, a noticeable departure going by its earlier publicity materials.
“…For the chief minister’s position, 26.1 per cent of the people in Maharashtra desire Eknath Shinde and 23.2 per cent of the people wish to see Devendra Fadnavis as the next chief minister,” reads the advertisement.
Senior BJP leader Fadnavis was the CM between 2014 and 2019.
Thus, it is undeniable proof that 49.3 per cent of the people in Maharashtra wish to see a strong alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena for their state’s leadership, it said.
The figures and claims in the advertisement have been attributed to a Zee TV-Matrize survey.
“According to the election surveys, 30.2 per cent of citizens of Maharashtra prefer Bharatiya Janata Party, while 16.2 per cent of citizens prefer the Shiv Sena (led by Eknath Shinde). These numbers show that a total of 46.4 per cent people of Maharashtra trust the BJP and Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena alliance for the development of the state,” the advertisement said.
According to a report by Zee News, the survey was conducted across all 288 Assembly segments of the state between May 23 and June 11 with the participation of 36,000 people.
Of those who took part in the survey, 21,600 were men and 14,400 were women. The margin of error in the survey is three per cent plus or minus, the report said.
Responding to the advertisement, Sanjay Raut of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT) said, “It was Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena earlier, but the advertisement has cleared the air. It has now become Modi-Shah’s Shiv Sena. Where is the image or photo of late Balasaheb Thackeray in the advertisement?”
State BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule, however, tried to downplay the advertisement.
“It is always the election result that decides which party or leader is more acceptable to the voters. Shinde as a cabinet minister was popular earlier and now his acceptance has increased as the chief minister. People of the state have lots of expectations from Fadnavis, Shinde and Modi.”
As a state-level leader, the people of Maharashtra have given preference to Fadnavis twice, he said. “There is no comparison between the Shiv Sena and BJP about who is a bigger or smaller party,” added Bawankule.
Chief spokesperson of the Maharashtra unit of Congress Atul Londhe called it a “false” survey that he said Shinde has used to promote himself.
“Once the election is over, Maha Vikas Aghadi will win more than 42 Lok Sabha seats (in Maharashtra) and 200 seats in the assembly for sure. A new story would be written about him (Shinde) as ‘once upon a time, there was Shinde…’,” he said.
Maharashtra has 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 Assembly constituencies. Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners – Shiv Sena (UBT), Congress and NCP – have asserted that they will fight the polls with maximum coordination.
Bharat Gogawale, chief whip of the Shinde-led Sena said, “We never manage anyone to get a favourable survey. He (Shinde) is even accessible to people and visits all parts of the state. We have not asked any media house to conduct a survey for us.”
Clyde Crasto, NCP’s national spokesperson, claimed the ad must have saddened those who first gave the slogan ‘Desh me Narendra, Rajya me Devendra’ and then with a heavy heart accepted Shinde as the CM.
“Now the BJP versus Shiv Sena entertainment begins in Maharashtra,” he said, adding that the countdown for the Maharashtra Assembly elections has begun.
Crasto’s party colleague Mahesh Tapase said the CM is trying to cut to size his deputy Fadnavis and the ad shows that all is not well between the CM and the BJP.
Tapase asserted that Shinde is upset after statements by BJP leaders in Kalyan Lok Sabha constituency demanding the replacement of his son and MP Shrikant Shinde and claiming candidature for the BJP.
He said it is good that finally, CM Shinde has realised that there cannot be a permanent symbiotic relationship with the BJP that always ends up “cannibalising” its ally.
“BJP will pressurize all Shinde nominees to contest on the lotus symbol or face political isolation,” he added.
Asked about the advertisement, state school education minister Deepak Kesarkar said he had not given it. “If the advertisement is misleading, I can ask the person and seek an explanation. But making a mountain out of a molehill is inappropriate.”
He said the Opposition is trying to instigate the two parties as they are “jealous”.
“We don’t have any differences. There is no competition to take credit and it is very evident who is trying to create a split. Both CM and DCM are working like brothers,” Kesarkar said.