Mumbai: Subhash Velingkar, the rebel Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader in Goa, said on Tuesday that he was open to having an alliance with the Shiv Sena for the Goa assembly elections likely in March 2017.

Velingkar told Marathi news channel Zee Chowis Taas that the Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) in Goa would ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party is defeated in Goa elections.

Velingkar heads the BBSM and was ‘relieved’ by the RSS leadership earlier this month after he announced plans to form a new political party to take on the BJP on the issue of medium of instruction in government-aided schools.

Velingkar denied that he was aiming to become the chief minister of Goa and said his fight was cultural and social. He also insisted that he was still a swayamsevak and was open to a dialogue with the RSS leadership if the latter made the first move.

“I still consider myself a swayamsevak and shall always remain committed to RSS. It is only to allow me to freely work for BBSM that RSS has relieved me," Velingkar said.

Two days back, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut met Velingkar in Goa and extended Shiv Sena’s support. Raut told reporters in Goa that he had conveyed Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s support to Velingkar in his fight for education in the mother tongue.

When contacted, Raut said the Sena would work with Velingkar if he made the offer. “This is not a political issue for Shiv Sena. Velingkar’s emphasis on mother tongue is Shiv Sena’s position only. In Maharashtra we have been fighting for Marathi bhasha and that is what he has been doing in Goa for 40 years. We will work with him in our own capacity," Raut said. But he added that the Sena would wait till Velingkar formed his political party. “Alliance talks can only be held after he announces his party. Right now we are supporting his point of view," Raut said.

A Maharashtra BJP functionary, who did not wish to be named, said the Shiv Sena was only “exploiting" Velingkar against the BJP. “Velingkar enjoys good support and sympathy in Goa and that is what Shiv Sena is trying to exploit. It wants to ride piggyback in Goa to ensure damage to BJP in elections," said the BJP functionary.

In the 40-member Goa assembly, the BJP won 21 seats in the 2012 elections. The BJP received support from a cross-section of Goan society including Christians. During the election campaign, the BJP, working with the BBSM then, promised that it would stop giving government grants to elementary schools which have English as the medium of instruction. However, the BJP has not fully honoured this promise, according to BBSM, and English medium schools are still getting government grants.

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