Members of the INDIA bloc consistently criticise the BJP, often referring to it as a “washing machine” for welcoming leaders it had previously accused of scams and corruption. The recent return of film actor Govinda to politics and his joining of the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena have provided the rival Thackeray faction with another opportunity to take on the BJP.

Govinda had defeated BJP stalwart Ram Naik from the Mumbai North seat in the 2004 elections on a Congress ticket. It was a shock defeat for Naik, a five-time Lok Sabha member, and he had accused Govinda of taking the help of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim to win the elections.

In his 2016 memoir, Naik said the main reason for his defeat was terror unleashed by the builder lobby and the underworld. Voters were terrorised, and this had only intensified three days before voting, Naik wrote. Govinda had denied the charges and had asked Naik not to damage his image and career.

Naik’s claims came into the spotlight on Thursday, with the Thackeray faction questioning if BJP was okay with Govinda joining an alliance partner.

“Have you taken BJP approval before inducting Govinda?” the Thackeray-led Sena asked the rival faction. In another ‘X’ post on the same topic, it wondered if dedicated BJP party workers would ever get their due.

Meanwhile, Govinda is now said to be in the reckoning for the Mumbai North West seat. Shinde, however, said the actor has not put forth any conditions while joining the party and has not asked for a poll nomination.

“When I left politics in 2009, I did not think I would come back. But after a 14-year vanvas (exile), I am coming back to a party where there is Ram Rajya,” the actor said upon joining the Shinde-led Sena.