The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to reduce Mumbai’s importance in the national scheme of things, and is targeting the Shiv Sena only to get a hold over the city, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said on Friday.
With less than two weeks before the city goes to polls, the Sena has stepped up its criticism of the BJP-led state government — in an interview and an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana.
In the editorial, the Sena criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘raincoat’ jibe at former PM Manmohan Singh, and openly praised the Congress for the country’s development. Without the Congres, the editorial said, India would have now “been like Somalia” or Burundi”. The Sena even hailed past Congress PMs Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao and Singh.
In the interview to Saamana, Thackeray said the BJP was interested in gaining control of Mumbai only to break it apart. “One thing is for sure, nobody can break Mumbai away from Maharashtra. Then what can they do? They (BJP) have power in their hands, so they can misuse it to diminish Mumbai’s significance. Starting from Air India, the offices of all major Central establishments have been moved. Industrialists have also moved away from Mumbai, reducing the city’s importance. All these things have started once again, and it has gone beyond my tolerance,” Thackeray said to a question on why the BJP wants to gain control over Mumbai.
Those in Delhi, he said, irrespective of who it is, feel they should have the control of the country’s financial nerve centre. “It is an expression of a dissatisfied sentiment that even if I become prime minister, I want to control Mumbai. Everyone has felt that, right from Nehru to Narendra Modi,” Thackeray said.
The Shiv Sena, he said, guarded the city when no one could stand during the 1992 riots. “The Shiv Sena is Mumbai’s strength and they think if they reduce this strength, they can get Mumbai easily. But that is never possible,” the Sena chief said, while reiterating that henceforth, there will be no discussions or negotiations for an alliance, and that he has clarified this is the beginning of the Sena’s new path.
Separately, in the Saamana editorial, the Sena criticised Prime Minister Modi’s jibe at Singh when he said only the former prime minister knows the art of taking a bath with a raincoat. The Sena said Modi, who keeps cornering the Congress every time the issue of demonetisation and corruption comes up, should change his negative outlook and realise those who shield the corrupt are corrupt themselves. Many such politicians have taken refuge in the BJP, the editorial said.
The Sena said the Congress government might have been corrupt, but to say that it only indulged in scams and didn’t bring about any development is wrong. “But if the prime minister says that, everyone should accept it as the truth or else they will be called deshdrohis (traitors),” the Sena said in the editorial.
“Even if we accept the Congress only looted the country with corruption, we also need to acknowledge that a country, which could not make even a needle, has greatly grown its economy and industry. This progress has not happened only in the last two years. The country has been built on the efforts of its past rulers.”
The Sena praised Indira Gandhi for her war on Pakistan in 1971, instead of being two-faced about her approach to that nation, for nationalising banks and for nipping the Khalistan issue in the bud, among others. The party has been taunting the Modi government for not talking tough with Pakistan despite an increase in insurgency and violence at the border.
Similarly, the Sena praised Rajiv Gandhi for setting the tone of Indian diplomacy and for ushering in the computer age in the nation, and Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh for lifting India out of a financial crisis.