Will restore Mumbai to its British-era glory if we win BMC polls, says MNS chief Raj Thackeray
MNS chief Raj Thackeray appeals to Mumbaiites to vote him to power in the BMC, promising in turn to transform the city to its pre-19th century glory — the one built by the British rulersmumbai Updated: Feb 20, 2017 11:11 IST
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS ) chief Raj Thackeray, a shadow of his former firebrand image of 2014, given the party’s large scale defections and electoral defeats, called the 2017 civic polls as a test between development and money power, alleging that BJP was riding on the latter. He slammed both his major opponents — his cousin, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis — as liars and the ongoing Sena-BJP spat as stage managed. Thackeray predicted a post-poll alliance between the saffron allies, even as he criticised the media off for not holding them accountable.
Excerpts from Thackeray’s interview with HT:
Why have you not published your manifesto?
There is no use just publishing a manifesto. There is no accountability at all of what was promised. Those who were ruling for the past 25 years and have been coming out with their manifesto every five years, have the people or the press bothered to ask them what work they have done?
If you get power in BMC, what will you do for Mumbai?
My vision about Mumbai is like that of the British. Even though the British may have left India, I want to create a Mumbai as envisaged by the British. Just see the town-planning of Mumbai till Mahim causeway. At that time when the population of Mumbai was hardly anything, they built the CST station, which can bear the load even today. See the Oval Maidan, Azad Maidan or Shivaji Park, do you notice such structures in the suburbs. The areas like Parel, Lalbaug and Dadar have many open spaces owing to the town planning done during those days. During the 26/7 deluge, there are no floods in the island city while the suburbs got flooded. Constructing good roads is not rocket science. If I can do it in Nashik, this can be done even in Mumbai.
Why have the other parties not been able to deliver as you have performed in Nashik?
Apart from what I have promised, I have done more than that. In fact after independence, MNS is the first outfit to give presentations about the work it has done in its first five years. Others want to just indulge in corruption while I want to work. I have no problems with people grilling me about the work I have done, but what about the others who do not perform. Mumbai is only city in the world where at least Rs150 crore is spent on filling potholes. Is It not is the responsibility of the road contractor to maintain the roads he has constructed?
Your opponents say that Nashik got good roads owing to the Kumbh Mela where the entire infrastructure was upgraded by the state government and you are taking undue credit.
It was the Nashik Municipal Corporation which was responsible for such good roads. The BJP should not talk as it was not ruling the Centre at that time. The contractors were the same. We constructed ring roads and other roads of at least 510 kilometres and there is not a single pothole there.
Why does Mumbai not get good roads? Uddhav Thackeray blames the state government for the shoddy roads saying it’s their responsibility.
He is lying as only the highways and places near flyovers are to be maintained by the state government. All internal roads need to be maintained by the municipal corporations. Why does he then go for inaugurations? It is just an attempt to hide the faults as they have failed on all fronts. See they distributed tabs to students, but even there they have failed.
Your party has been hit by defections. In Nashik, you lost more than half the corporators and the situation was similar in Pune and Mumbai.
These defectors looked at municipal corporations as a money-making venture. I did not allow corruption and hence they left the outfit. They were not interested in development at all.
You attract crowds, but they do not seem to translate into votes.
The 2014 elections were an exception as there was a Modi wave. But before that I had good crowds and also got a lot of votes.
How do you rate Devendra Fadnavis’s performance?
There is nothing worth taking note of. He is just lying all through.
You had supported Modi for the Prime Ministership? You even visited Gujarat and praised Modi. Do you regret your decision?
At that time Ratan Tata had praised Modi and hence I visited Gujarat. I liked the way he had worked and praised him. If I don’t like his policies, I will criticise him. See the issue of demonetisation. It may be have been done with a good motive, however, now it has failed, which is again a truth.
Don’t you think that migration is inevitable when urbanisation takes place? Migrants are needed for development?
I think even Tamil Nadu is developing, but the focus is on the locals. The Marathi manoos has to understand this. See Jallikattu where the superstars along with all parties gathered together. However, this does not happen during Dahi Handi as here when I raise the issue, our own people criticise me. The Marathi manoos has provided all amenities to the migrants and they have to acknowledge this. However, when these migrants try to dominate us, that makes me angry.
The Maharashtrians seem to be decreasing in numbers in Mumbai
It is time to stop this talk of numbers. For years, non-Maharashtrians were voting for local Maharashtrians, but in the past five years, there seems to be trend of outsiders trying to create their own vote banks and constituencies on the basis of states, language and communities. Then we have to bring people like Hardik Patel to Mumbai. I want priority for locals in the jobs and this was even accepted by Mamata Banerjee when she was the railway minister.
Both Sena and BJP are now accusing each other of corruption? Is it not the failure of the opposition parties?
This is just a stage-managed show and they have done it before in the KDMC elections. Both cannot show any achievements and hence are resorting to such tactics just to divert the attention of the masses. MNS has performed the opposition’s role effectively.
Uddhav Thackeray had said why did you ask for alliance when you accuse him of corruption.
More than my ego, the welfare of the Marathi Manoos is supreme for me and I am ready to keep aside anything for it.
In 2012, you were called as kingmaker..where have you failed in these past five years?
I failed to indulge in corruption or else I would have been distributing money to all. Nowadays, all elections are fought on money power. Today, only the BJP has the money and this talk of cashless India is all misleading.
You have criticised the Metro project?
Why do you want a Metro as it is designed to drive out Maharashtrians. These Metros are designed just for the migrants and has nothing to do with locals. I am not opposing development, but the hidden agenda behind Metro is dangerous.