After insults from Chavan, who called him a frog croaking in the monsoon, and Uddhav, who referred to him as a mouse caught in a trap, Raj Thackeray has now got a pitying ‘I feel sorry for him’ from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“[His anti-‘outsider’ campaign] is not right,” Singh said, addressing a pre-election meet in south Mumbai on Sunday. “I feel sorry for him… the way he is talking. Maharashtra voters will give him the right answer.”
On the last day of campaigning, Singh also offered some candid admissions of the Congress-led government’s shortcomings in the state.
The state government “could have done better”, the PM said, addressing businessmen and industrialists at the National Centre for the Performing Arts at Nariman Point.
“But,” he added, “I contend that the Congress and its allies offer the best alternative for a government here.”
The Congress-NCP-led government has been in power for 10 years and is now seeking a third consecutive term.
Describing Mumbai as accommodating, secular, and “above all, entrepreneurial”, Singh said the ruling combine wants Mumbai to be a world-class city.
“We know that will not be possible without world-class infrastructure, which is now our top priority,” he said.
A number of mega projects have been announced in Mumbai, but most — including the Western Freeway Project (three sea links, of which only one is complete) and the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (meant to improve road and rail connectivity within the city and the metropolitan region) — are running way behind schedule.
Finally, Singh came to the two issues that have defined much of this election, and most of the Opposition’s campaigning: The meteoric rise in prices over the last year, and the unending, seemingly insolvable power crisis that is costing the state crores every day.
“The worst is over as far as the price rise is concerned,” Singh said. “We are expecting a good rabi [winter] crop, which will make everything fine.”
There is a need to accelerate the development of the power sector, Singh added, in rather an understatement.
The prime minister went on to discuss the government’s flagship schemes — the mid-day meal scheme for schools, the employment guarantee scheme and the rural health mission — and concluded with an appeal to voters to pick the combine that guarantees the ‘inclusive development’ of the state.