Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday dared BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi to quit as Gujarat chief minister and asked him to stop talking only about his own state.
"A prime minister has to serve the entire country, not just his own state. I really admire Modi's developmental work in Gujarat, but now he must focus on bringing change to India, not merely speak about Gujarat," Raj was quoted by IBN-Lokmat as saying.
The report said that Raj told a press conference in Nashik on Thursday that Modi should have resigned as Gujarat CM after he was named BJP's PM candidate.
Thackeray also slammed Modi's speech at his rally in Mumbai. "You come to Mumbai and speak about the Gujarati community and about Sardar Patel's statue. Why didn't you speak about Shivaji Maharaj?" he said.
The MNS chief hailed the fall of the Congress government in Delhi and the rise of AAP, but clarified that Maharashtra did not require the Aam Aadmi Party's presence.
"Today, you are all talking about AAP, but I have been saying for the last many years that vote me to power in Maharashtra because things cannot change otherwise. I would fix Maharashtra's problems," he said.
Thackeray's remark drew a sharp response from BJP, an ally of his estranged cousin Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena, with its Maharashtra unit chief Devendra Fadnavis saying Modi is competent enough to decide when to quit.
"Modi is performing his duties as chief minister with efficiency. So there is no question of his resigning from his post," he said in Mumbai.
"Modi doesn't speak about Gujarat...he speaks about development, growth, inclusivity, social sector, demographic advantage, jobs...he speaks about India. If Mr Thackeray had listened to Mr Modi's speeches, he would never give such a reaction," Fadnavis said.
He said since Modi had dwarfed his rivals, they were repeatedly attacking him.
Thackeray is slated to hold several meetings in different parts of the state in coming weeks.
His remarks point to a shaky relationship with the BJP’s PM face. Raj was among the few leaders Modi had invited to Gujarat in 2012 when he was sworn in as the chief minister for the fourth term.
The BJP has an alliance with Shiv Sena, headed by Raj’s cousin Udhhav Thackeray who has backed Modi’s candidature.