Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s message to his cadre on Sunday, the day his party turned 50, was clear – prepare to fight the upcoming civic polls alone.
With eight months to go for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, Thackeray indicated the party was ready in case the alliance with the BJP did not materialise, but also kept a window for talks open with the alliance partner.
“I don’t know about the alliance yet. The Sena wants the alliance. We don’t want to break it. However, the alliance has to be of self-respect, not helplessness. Nonetheless, we will have to fight and win the
elections on our own strength,” he said.
When Thackeray broached the issue, the rank and file in the audience was negative towards the alliance with the friend-turned-foe, BJP.
The Sena, insiders said, assumes the BJP will call off the alliance for the elections. However, Thackeray’s decision to talk tough shows it wants to send out a stern message to the BJP.
“People keep asking what the Sena will do tomorrow. We will see what comes our way and then decide what to do about it,” he said.
Thackeray’s hardened stand came a day after Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the BJP wanted the alliance to continue and urged leaders of both parties to sit and sort out the issues.
Thackeray said Naidu’s statement was a contradiction of state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve’s speech at the same event.
Through his nearly 40-minute-long speech, Thackeray took potshots at the BJP and Modi, slamming them on the purported exodus of Hindu families from Khairana, uniform civil code and the Ram temple at Ayodhya. Thackeray also made light of the Narendra Modi wave.
“The Sena has seen and defeated many waves. Logs of wood, too, float in the waves. Once the waves recede, the pebbles at the bottom stand exposed,” he said.
The leader also took potshots at Modi’s suggestion to hold the national and state elections together.
“If that happens, it’ll be a good thing. At least, people will not have to stop their foreign tours to come back for poll campaigns,” Thackeray said.