‘Won’t betray you, don’t betray us’: Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray tells BJP on alliance
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has said his party’s alliance with the BJP would stay strong if they are honest with each other after the parties recently joined hands again following an acrimonious relationship for the last five years.
Uddhav Thackeray, in his first major interview after the alliance was forged, spoke on various issues including the reasons to ally with the BJP, the state of the opposition in the country, the Ram Temple issue, spreading Sena’s base, and why the Sena-BJP alliance is an answer to the woes of the people in Maharashtra.
In his interview to Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, the Sena chief said he does not “regret” taking on the Bharatiya Janata Party while being in power with the national party.
“We will not betray you, you shouldn’t betray us,” he said was the mantra for the alliance between the two parties.
As a part of the deal, of Maharashtra’s 48 Lok Sabha seats the Shiv Sena will contest 23 and the BJP 25 in the April-May general elections.
According to Thackeray, the decision to ally with the BJP once again was on the basis of Hindutva and done after the national party fulfilled the conditions the Sena had taken up “for the people”.
“All the issues the Shiv Sena took up were for the people. They were acknowledged, accepted, and they are being acted upon and rectified. So why should we be in a conflict?” he asked.
The Sena chief said that the party was lax in the 25 years of the alliance with the BJP and did not spread its base across the state.
Referring to his statement that the Sena “rotted in the 25 years of alliance with the BJP” he said, “Understand what I mean by we rotted for 25 years. After the alliance we were lax. Shiv Sena chief (Bal Thackeray) had then toured the entire state. But after the alliance we got lax. Now, this laxity won’t be seen.”
Thackeray, however, did not clarify on the “power sharing” agreement between the Sena and BJP for the assembly elections. When the alliance was announced on February 18, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said that both parties would have an equal share of power and responsibilities in Maharashtra.
“I think what the chief minister said during the alliance announcement is enough on the matter that the responsibility and power will be equally shared. You can make sense of that statement,” he said when asked about the next chief minister of Maharashtra.
In stark contrast to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ (Congress-free India) slogan during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Thackeray said he does not have such “petty imaginations”.
When asked if the problems of the country would be solved if it becomes free of Congress-rule, Thackeray said, “I never said anything about Congress-mukt country. I never said that finish the Congress because the opposition should remain… Finish off or Congress-mukt, I do not have such petty imagination. That said, the condition of the Congress today is bad, it does not have tall leaders it earlier had like [PV] Narasimha Rao.”
The Sena chief also took on Congress president Rahul Gandhi and said there is no opposition party that can take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or NDA at the Centre. He said that like in 2014, the opposition still cannot bring about a change of power at the Centre.
“The Congress doesn’t have the leadership. What is Rahul Gandhi doing exactly is a question before the people… Sometimes he says something good and at times he makes a mess,” he said.
Thackeray also said his visit to Ayodhya has reignited the Ram temple issue that was in lying in the “cold storage”. He said he would like the Supreme Court to set a deadline for the mediation process it has ordered.
“If its (Ram temple issue) resolution doesn’t happen at desired speed, I will again go to Ayodhya... After the Shiv Sena went to Ayodhya the issue that was lying in cold storage started moving again,” he said.
“The court had to take some steps, along with the government. The court has appointed mediators now so the issue has moved ahead. I have only one request that the court should define a deadline to resolve it,” he said.
Uddhav Thackeray also said “Balasaheb Thackeray’s teachings have been that defeat is better than false promises” when asked about ‘jumlas’.
“During elections, if one says I do not promise anything to the voter, then he won’t give his valuable vote. But while promising the voters, things that cannot be fulfilled should not be promised. One knows their capacity to fulfill promises. It should be taken into account before promising the voters.”