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Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP counters Raj Thackeray’s claims

Hours before the curtains came down on electioneering in Mumbai, the BJP and the MNS exchanged claims and counterclaims.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 28, 2019 15:31 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
BJP,Lok Sabha,elections
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashish Shelar addresses party workers at Rangsharda Auditorium, Bandra, on Saturday.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday countered the claims made by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray in his rallies and said he has been presenting “edited videos to build a false campaign” against the ruling party. Presenting its own set of videos, the Mumbai unit of the BJP said Thackeray has been “twisting and distorting information to misguide people”.

Hours before the curtains came down on electioneering in Mumbai, the BJP and the MNS exchanged claims and counterclaims. While BJP said Thackeray has been “speaking in the language of Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan and Pakistani media”, the MNS said the ruling party is “losing sleep over the exposé” by Thackeray.

The MNS chief has been launching scathing attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Ganga cleaning project, Pulwama attack, Ujjwala Yojana, note ban, GST rollout, etc, at his rallies, which have attracted large crowds.

BJP’s Mumbai unit chief, Ashish Shelar, countered close to 20 “allegations” made by the MNS chief in the past 20 days to present the “true picture”. Shelar said the videos shown by Thackeray and the “32 allegations” made were not sourced from verified social media accounts of the BJP or through RTI.

“On Pulwama, there was a lot of mudslinging. In one rally, he [Thackeray] said Amit Shah was the first to speak about the airstrike when in fact, the Pakistan Army PRO was the first to tweet about it at 5.12am on February 26. Amit Shah tweeted about it on February 26 afternoon,” Shelar said at Rangsharda Auditorium. He claimed that Thackeray spoke “half truth” about the meetings between the national security agencies of both countries. “He showed an article and said Ajit Doval and Pakistan NSA had a secret meeting in Bangkok in December. He didn’t say which year the meeting took place. It was in December 2017 while the Pulwama attacks occurred in February 2019.”

Shelar also slammed Thackeray for questioning the valour of Indian servicemen. “First Imran Khan said no war, then MNS said the same thing. Later, Pakistan PM said no F-16 shot down, and MNS said the same. Pakistan is demanding inquiry of Ajit Doval and so is MNS. He is speaking in the language of Pakistan. People now have a question: What Imran Khan plans, Thackeray does the same,” he said.

Shelar also claimed that in one of Thackeray’s rallies, he showed an “edited” video of Modi’s interview, where he was seen asking that if the death of farmers can be an election issue, then why the death of soldiers cannot be one. Shelar, on Saturday, showed an extended clip of the interview and said, “If he had shown the question in the clip, people would have known [the context].”

Shelar also countered Thackeray’s claim that though ₹20,000 crore has been spent on Namami Gange project, the river is still polluted. He said sewerage treatment plants have been set up in Hubli, Kanpur, Patna, Prayagraj and Varanasi in the past 1,200 days of the government.

Responding to Shelar’s “counter-claims”, MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande said the Namami Gange video shown by Shelar “is an advertisement of the BJP”. “We’ve already exposed how fake their ads are…Today’s press conference was an example that the BJP is losing sleep after being exposed by Raj sahib,” he said, while addressing the media at Shivaji Park. “They are claiming Modi never said anything about giving ₹15 lakh in the accounts of citizens… Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari have already said the statement was a jumla.”

The MNS on Saturday also claimed the state’s advertisement on skill development was fake. Deshpande introduced Rekha Vahatule, who had enrolled in the state’s skill training programme and whose name was allegedly used in the advertisement. Vahatule, who is from Aurangabad district, said, “I have a masala business. I got skill training through the scheme. But they did not help me promote my business. I haven’t got any benefit. They used my name for the ad.”

First Published: Apr 28, 2019 15:31 IST