Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday kicked off his election campaign by accusing both the BJP and Shiv Sena of indulging in corruption in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
Raj did not spare chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and estranged cousin and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, accusing them of misleading the people.
Addressing his first election rallies in Vikhroli and Vile Parle, Raj asked how the BJP could accuse the Sena of corruption in the BMC. “There is no doubt Shiv Sena is corrupt, but even the BJP has enjoyed power over the past 25 years. Only this year, you (BJP) realised about the corruption.” He said his campaigning started late as his son, Amit, was in hospital.
In a direct attack on Uddhav, Raj said, “The Sena is using Balasaheb’s poster to ask for votes. If you have guts, put your (Uddhav) picture and seek votes. Uddhav feels bad about people who died during demonetisation, but what of those who died due to potholed roads in Mumbai and Thane?”
He also accused Uddhav of trying to usurp the Mayor’s bungalow on the grounds of constructing a memorial for the late Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
He mocked the Sena over the report of the Union government that ranked BMC number one for transparency. “I wonder what kind of transparency this is, where roads get potholes every year. There are no proper footpaths to walk.” Raj said the Marathi-medium BMC schools were shutting down, while the number of Urdu schools continued to flourish.
In the start of his speech, he compared the verbal duel between Fadnavis and Thackeray as a cock fight. “Today, they will fight and after elections come together again,” he said. “The topics they are discussing have nothing to do with the BMC polls,” he added.
In the end, he appealed to the electorate, saying based on MNS’ performance in the Nashik Municipal Corporation, he should be given one chance to rule BMC.
Currently the MNS is a pale shadow of itself compared to 2009, as it is faced with large-scale defections as well as low morale among party workers.