In the worst-ever attack yet on former ally BJP, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Monday likened the ongoing poll campaign in Maharashtra by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cabinet to an assault by Bijapur general Afzal Khan's army on Shivaji's dominion in the 17th century.
"What are they up to? First Modi comes to campaign, then his entire cabinet team is campaigning for votes in Maharashtra. They are like the army of Afzal Khan trying to conquer this state," Uddhav thundered at a huge public rally in the temple of town of Tuljapur.
He noted out that besides Modi, the home minister, external affairs minister, chief ministers and other top leaders were campaigning for the Maharashtra assembly elections scheduled for October 15.
The Sena chief alleged that their whole intention is "to break the state into pieces" in the name of bringing progress and development here.
"But, the people of Maharashtra will not tolerate such attempts. They (team Modi) will be made to bite the dust," he asserted to applause from the people.
He pointed out that Afzal Khan too met a similar fate when he tried to break up the Maratha empire of Chhatrapati Shivaji.
"Do you want Maharashtra to be divided into many pieces? Then vote for BJP. Do you?" he asked the gathering, which roared back "no, no."
Modi, during his campaign trail, is noted for his interactive connect with the crowds by asking similar questions and eliciting their responses.
Uddhav recalled his previous rally in Tulzapur in the last week of September when many party activists were reluctant to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"The party workers wanted the Sena flag fluttering in Tuljapur and in Mantralaya (the state government headquarters). But what if the seat went to the BJP quota? The workers were still insistenent," he said.
Just then (September 25), news trickled from Mumbai that the BJP had unilaterally snapped its 25-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena, he said.
"What BJP?... The breaking of the alliance was probably the will of Goddess Tulja Bhavani. I got this feeling," Uddhav said.
However, he acknowledged that if the late BJP leaders Gopinath Munde and Pramod Mahajan were alive, he would not have allowed the alliance to break.