Now, Avni haunts BJP-Shiv Sena talks

Forest minister refuses to parley with ally over its scathing criticism for killing tigress.

Mumbai: The battle between the ruling allies in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, over the killing of tigress Avni has disturbed the ongoing backdoor talks for an alliance between the parties.

Forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar was holding these discussions with Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray however with Mr Thackeray having taken a strong and bitter stand against Mr Mungantiwar, the latter is no longer keen on continuing with the talks.

In a recent informal meet with media persons, Mr Mungantiwar revealed the real reason behind the talks having ended. He said that he had called Mr Thackeray to convey his displeasure over the killing.

“At that time, Mr Thackeray told me that Union minister Maneka Gandhi (who attacked her BJP colleague over the issue on social media) had called him and asked him to criticise the state government for the killing of Avni. We were good friends but Mr Thackeray did not ask me for my side,” Mr Mungantiwar told media persons.

Interestingly, Mr Munga-ntiwar has been a champion of the BJP-Sena alliance right from the beginning. When bitterness between the parties was at its peak, Mr Mungantiwar was the first BJP leader to have reached out to Mr Thack-eray. He was also the first BJP leader to have met Mr Thackeray at the latter’s Mumbai residence, Mato-shree, at a time when the BJP top brass was steering clear of it. Hence, Mr Thac-keray attacking him over Avni’s killing hurt him even more.

“Despite this, Mr Thackeray indulged in cheap criticism. I am no longer willing to hold alli-ance talks with him now,” said Mr Mungantiwar.

Mr Mungantiwar said he was also shocked to learn of the strong criticism of the Avni killing by Shiv Sena workers on social media.

“I am not active on social media platforms. However, when my daughter showed me the messages posted on Twitter and Facebook, I was deeply upset. People used abusive language against me. I felt upset when I saw my family in distress reading such messages,” he said.

The hurdle in the alliance talks has come at a time when the BJP is publicly pleading for an alliance with the Sena.

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