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HindustanTimes Sun,24 Aug 2014

BJP wanted me in NDA, but Uddhav didn't let it happen: Raj Thackeray

Yogesh Joshi, Hindustan Times  Pune, April 01, 2014
First Published: 00:37 IST(1/4/2014) | Last Updated: 00:40 IST(1/4/2014)

The BJP wanted the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the NDA, but Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray did not let that happen, MNS chief Raj Thackeray said on Monday.

Raj, who had parted with his late uncle Bal Thackeray's Shiv Sena in 2006, also lauded BJP's prime minister nominee Narendra Modi for his 'work'.

Kicking off his campaign in Pune, Raj came down heavily on Bal Thackeray's son Uddhav, but spared the BJP.

Senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde had recently met with Raj, asking him not to field candidates against the saffron party to avoid division of votes.  "I said how can this be possible as I have formed a party?" Raj told the rally.

He added both Gadkari and Munde wanted him to join the NDA.   "They told me that Uddhav never wanted me to come along with them."

The meeting irked the Shiv Sena, which is a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Around 30 minutes of Raj's 45-minute speech was targeted at the Shiv Sena. "I will now show Shiv Sena what I am capable of... it threw a challenge in an editorial after Nitin Gadkari met with me."

The editorial that appeared in the Shiv Sena's mouthpiece, Saamana, had questioned the MNS's ability to win the elections.

The MNS had contested 12 seats in the 2009 general elections, winning none but polling over one lakh votes in nine constituencies in the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik belt.

"The (Shiv Sena's) clap offer was just an excuse," Raj said. In January last, Uddhav had made an alliance offer to the MNS through an interview in Saamana, asking Raj if he was willing to clap.

Raj added if the Shiv Sena was serious about the alliance, the party could have called him personally and discussed the issue. "It wasn't their (Shiv Sena) intention to ally with me."

Raj also said the MNS had fielded candidates to win the election and not to dent anyone's vote bank.

The MNS chief praised Modi, saying only the Gujarat chief minister can provide a stable government in the current circumstances.

"The current atmosphere is such that only Modi's government will come to power."

Raj said he supported Modi for PM because of his work. "When Modi's name wasn't even in the race for PM, I went to Gujarat to see his work."

The MNS chief described the Shiv Sena's decision of taking support from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar to build a memorial of Bal Thackeray as double standard.

"Uddhav says taking Pawar (a Congress ally) in the NDA fold would mean deceiving the people of the state. However he doesn't mind taking support of NCP for building the memorial."

Raj also launched a stinging attack on the Congress. "The Congress has lost the will to fight the polls fearing defeat….the time has come to destroy them completely."

He said, "Congress leaders will now come to offer you money. I suggest you take the money but don't vote for them." There are speculations that his remark would attract the Election Commission's attention.


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