Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday made it clear his party will continue to criticise the policies of the BJP-led government at the Centre if they affect people adversely because his party is an ally and has not merged with the BJP.
Both Uddhav and his elder son and political heir Aaditya (who is the party’s youth wing chief) spoke to the Hindustan Times ahead of the Sena’s 50th foundation day celebrations on June 19.
Uddhav also said better coordination was needed within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Aaditya, however, indicated that unlike his father, he was open to joining legislative politics. “It is up to the people and the party to decide,” he said.
Although it is a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and partners the BJP in power in the city, state and at the Centre, the Sena has been vocal against the Narendra Modi government on issues such as its policy towards Pakistan, handling of inflation or drought and the Prime Minister’s foreign tours. Irked BJP leaders often ask why the Sena, despite being an alliance partner, continues criticising the Modi government.
Uddhav had an answer.
“We speak against the government’s policies when we don’t get any response after raising them behind closed doors. If there are issues that affect people adversely, then I must come out and make our stand clear. We spoke against the land acquisition policy and the railway tariff hike. If they [the BJP] took it otherwise, what can we do? I am an ally, I have not merged my party with them [the BJP],’ Uddhav said.
He did not hide his disappointment with the BJP’s current leadership.
“The current leadership is different. I knew Atalji [former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee] and Advaniji [LK Advani]. Their generation was in favour of dialogue and willing to know more. Now it seems the new leaders already know it all. They are sarvgunsampanna (they have all the virtues). They don’t need anybody,” he said.
Uddhav also said he did not approve of person-centric politics.
“I think this will prove costly for the country, not just the party. Such a person becomes powerful because the people make him so. If he fails to deliver on his promises, the people would lose faith in him.”
He preferred not to make any direct comments on the performance of the Modi government in the first two years in office and said the people will decide.
“They have already told the people what they have done through advertisements. You should ask the people what they think, if they are satisfied.”
He said the Sena joined the government in the state because it did not want to lose the opportunity to drive the Congress out of power after a long time. “The BJP couldn’t do it alone,” he said.
Uddhav, who followed his father’s footsteps and stayed away from positions of power, said he would not stop his son Aaditya from joining the government. “Let him decide if he wants to join legislative politics,” he said. Aaditya said, “Our aim is to get things done for the people when we are in power. Let the people and the party decide if I should join legislative politics.’
Uddhav also said the Sena will look to expand its base outside Maharashtra. “We will contest elections outside Maharashtra. We got sizeable votes in Bihar. We will now contest Assembly polls in Goa and some other states.” Aaditya also said he would like to make the Sena a national player.
The Sena and BJP are locked in a bitter tussle ahead of the crucial Mumbai civic polls early next year. Asked if the two parties will continue the alliance, he said the issue was not being discussed between the two parties as of now.