Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray (41), whose outfit is contesting 12 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, spoke to Shailesh Gaikwad on a wide range of issues recently. Excerpts:
You are being seen as a spoiler rather than a serious contender. Are you?
They will say this till I don’t get success. Once I win, they will stop calling me a spoiler.
Why are you contesting only 12 seats?
If I wanted I could have fielded 48 but I do not have funds to contest so many seats. Besides, I should be able to give that much time for campaigning. I am not Jawaharlal Nehru that I can address one rally and rest content.
Would you like to forge an alliance with any party in the run-up to the Assembly elections later this year?
If I am going alone and getting this kind of response, will other parties afford to be in alliance with me? I am open to alliances but on my conditions. I will not compromise on my agenda. And everybody knows what my agenda is.
The Shiv Sena is ignoring you.
They are not ignoring me, they are clueless on how to deal with me. They accuse me of stealing their issue.
At a rally, you said the Parliament attack was more serious than 26/11?
One hundred per cent. In Mumbai, they targeted hotels, which are public places. But how could they break the heavy security and get into Parliament? I think that was the biggest intelligence failure. Even Kargil happened during the BJP’s tenure. Both the BJP and the Congress are the same. Both have failed to prevent terrorism.
But you admire Narendra Modi. What you think of him as a prime ministerial candidate?
Yes. The way he is working in Gujarat, he would be a good PM. But in this election, Advani is desperate to become prime minister, not the BJP.
Would you like to see Sharad Pawar as prime minister? After all, he has raised the issue of a Maharashtrian prime minister.
Mr Pawar uses Marathi for his own benefit. When our agitations were on, he wanted action against me to save his face in Delhi. Now, he wants to be PM and nobody except Naveen Patnaik is supporting him. So, he has raked up the issue of a Marathi PM. When was the last time he spoke for the cause of the Marathi manoos?