Mumbai, Nov 16 (IANS) Peeved over the massive fallout of the killing of tigress Avni (T1), Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Friday said he has decided to withdraw from the reconciliation efforts for an alliance between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena.
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray and other senior leaders had targeted Mungantiwar for the circumstances leading to Avni’s killing on November 2, and later BJP’s Union minister Maneka Gandhi also joined in demanding the minister’s sack from the state cabinet.
“I have told Uddhav that I am deeply hurt by his comment in the Avni matter. This was unexpected since I consider him a good friend,” a visibly upset Mungantiwar told mediapersons.
In view of the “cheap criticism’ in the entire episode, he has decided to withdraw himself from the ongoing efforts to forge an alliance between the two ruling partners for the 2019 Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
He said he was extremely pained by the kind of criticism, abusive language and derogatory messages posted on social media platforms which caused distress to his family members.
The Sena has already made it clear several times that in future it will contest all elections solo, but Mungantiwar was among the handful of BJP leaders hopeful of cobbling up a pre-poll partnership, unlike the 2014 assembly polls which they had fought separately.
The development comes barely days ahead of the upcoming winter session of Maharashtra Legislature next week, when the opposition plans to politically batter Mungantiwar over the raging Avni killing controversy.
Meanwhile in a fresh development, a camera trap in Yavatmal has captured images of Avni’s orphaned and dependent cubs who appear to be healthy even as efforts are underway to trap them, said a forest official.
An alleged man-eater, the five-year old Avni was killed in a late night operation on Nov. 2, sparking off a nationwide furore among environmental activists, animal lovers and all major political parties, leading to two committees being set up to probe the killing.