BJP moves to cement place as principal opposition party

The flux in Maharashtra politics after the death of Sena chief Bal Thackeray is being seen by BJP as an opportunity to expand its base in the state. Its core group comprising senior state leaders decided at a Monday meeting to aggressively pitch BJP as the top opposition party.

The first step in this direction was the decision to gherao Vidhan Bhavan in Nagpur on December 10.

BJP has also been vociferous in attacking NCP on the irrigation scam when other parties such as MNS have been restrained in their response. Shiv Sena, too, facing the loss of Bal Thackeray, has been mellow in reacting to the irrigation white paper.

BJP has 47 seats in the 289-member state assembly, Sena has 45 seats and MNS 12.

In 2009, its tally surpassed that of two-decade-old ally Sena. The party seems keen to maintain the lead.

"Every party wants to expand. No one wants to stay in the shadows of allies," a senior state BJP leader said.

The party has increasingly been taking an aggressive stand against the ruling combine. On Monday, it demanded that former deputy CM Ajit Pawar and irrigation minister Sunil Tatkare be booked under Prevention of Corruption Act in the irrigation scam.

"Pawar and Tatkare are the two main people responsible for large-scale waste of public money in flawed Irrigation projects. Both need to be booked under Prevention of Corruption Act," leader of opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse said.

BJP called the state government white paper on irrigation sham. None of the other political parties, including Sena and MNS, has been as vocal.

"The white paper is an eyewash. They are hiding corruption behind dressed-up figures," Khadse said.

BJP further claimed the white paper seemed to be an attempt by CM Prithviraj Chavan to shield Pawar.

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