Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who is not hiding his ambition to become chief minister of Maharashtra, in an interview to Hindustan Times, said he is not hungry for power, but wants his party to win in order to implement his vision for the state.
BJP leader and Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the BJP and Shiv Sena may come together after the polls. What is your response to that?
Gadkari’s statement is a ploy to create confusion among the voters. If they really have the intention to come together, then why did they break the alliance in the first place? Let them tell the people why they walked out of the alliance. Let the BJP also declare that it will not split Maharashtra. After that, we will consider their offer.
There is lot of bitterness between the Sena and the BJP. Could this have been avoided?
Who brought the bitterness in the relationship? They [BJP] broke the alliance, not me. There are rumours doing the rounds that the BJP will go with the NCP. All this is not very encouraging [for the prospect of a reunion].
So you see a realignment after polls? Who will you go with if you need a post-poll ally?
I am fighting this election with all my might and confidence, which will surely pay off. We will win power on our own. People should understand that coalition politics has damaged the state and they should hand over power to the Shiv Sena if they want Maharashtra to succeed.
You are the first Sena chief to openly declare he would like to be the chief minister. It also led to a stand-off between you and the BJP.
The BJP has been saying that they broke the alliance because of my ambition to become chief minister. They should have a look at the surveys that have come out and see that the people have voted in our favour. The results have made me more determined to do whatever it takes to fulfil their dreams and lead the Sena from the front. This is not my personal dream; I am doing it for the future of Maharashtra.
What is your pitch to the people of Maharashtra?
I have a vision for Maharashtra and I want to implement it. My plans are not only on paper. Whether it is a school education tab or telemedicine conferencing, I have shown the people how our ideas will look. No one has done that.
The BJP is bringing in PM Narendra Modi to campaign in Maharashtra. Will that make a difference?
In this election, people want a face to represent Maharashtra. Modi’s face cannot work in the state. People are irritated with the BJP because they broke the alliance. They trust the Sena and their love for Balasaheb Thackeray is unmatched. They think the BJP used the Sena to win the election and dumped us after winning power. Also the BJP’s campaign, based on the same government at the Centre and the state, won’t work. We have had the same party at both places for the past 10 years and we saw what happened. They only made money.
But you are still with the BJP in the Modi government?
This issue is very complicated and is not restricted to whether our minister should resign or stay in the government. When the elections took place, Sena and our voters also contributed to the NDA’s victory. Are you going to undo that? We need to have a discussion on that. They need to explain why they took our help during the Lok Sabha election and then dumped us.
Is the Shiv Sena banking on the Marathi vs Gujarati whisper campaign that is going on?
Many Gujaratis are unhappy with this and they have approached me saying it has deeply disturbed them. They feel that when it comes to Mumbai and Maharashtra, there is no alternative to the Shiv Sena.
BJP leaders criticised the Sena for sending your son Aaditya for seat-sharing talks.
I had sent Aaditya along with other leaders as my representative to indicate that seat sharing was a serious issue for me. They want the youth to vote for them, but they don’t want to see a young leader as my representative. If this is how they treat them, then young people in the state should seriously think about whether they should vote for the BJP.