On the day BJP president Amit Shah is slated to meet Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, the saffron party's alliance partner mocked its "comprehensive contact campaign".
In an op-ed titled 'Come, let's play contact' published in its mouthpiece Saamana, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said that it would contest the 2019 election independently and the 2019 general election can be one of the reasons for Shah's 'contact campaign'.
"The Narendra Modi government has lost its touch with those on its side and it is ideal for it to look for the reasons behind it," it said.
The Sena took a dig at BJP for relying on "poster boys" to fight elections and asked if Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, who broke TDP's alliance with the BJP, was on Shah's "contact campaign" list.
It further said that the "biggest contact scam in the world" is taking place in Bihar. "The campaigning for the 2019 Bihar Assembly election have begun under Modi and Nitish's leaderships. But Nitish's face won't work, and the JD(U) is not willing to agree with BJP to have Modi on the poster. This is how the scam has started in Bihar. Getting into alliance with the BJP means strangling one's own individuality," the Sena said. Senior JD(U) leader Pavan Varma had recently triggered a controversy for saying that Nitish Kumar "is the face of the NDA in Bihar.
The Shiv Sena hit out at the central government over issues like high petrol price, and the farmers on strike. "Now that the government's contact with farmers has broken, the work is underway to turn around their agitation," Sena said. It claimed that the BJP will use the same tactics ("love, price, penalty, discrimination") it used to win Palghar seat to twist the ongoing farmers' protest.
Amid all this, Modi is campaigning to maintain contacts across the globe, while Shah is doing it across India, the Sena said.
Shah is scheduled to meet Uddhav on Wednesday. This will be the second summit between Shah and Thackeray. The first took place exactly a year ago when the BJP chief called on the Sena supremo in June 2017 to seek his support in the presidential election.
The meeting is officially described as part of an outreach programme by the BJP to mollify its allies and build bridges before the 2019 parliamentary battle.
Modi and BJP have been bitterly targeted by Thackeray and his party in recent times.
The meeting will come a couple of days after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis exhorted his party workers to work hard for an alliance with the Sena.