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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

At Shiv Sena’s Dussehra rally, Uddhav promises Rs10 meals, Rs1 health check-ups to voters

assembly-elections Updated: Oct 09, 2019 00:01 IST
Swapnil Rawal
Swapnil Rawal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray during Shivsena's Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray during Shivsena's Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

With 10 days of campaigning left for the state Assembly elections, the Shiv Sena announced election sops and freebies, including 30% lower electricity tariff for up to 300 units, medical check-ups for Rs1, full meals for Rs10, free bus services in rural Maharashtra for school students, among other things, at its annual Dussehra rally in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, in a veiled jibe at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said invoking Lord Ram’s name is pointless if promises made to each other are not kept.

“On the one hand, you build a Ram Temple and on the other hand, break promises. This will not sit right even with Lord Ram,” he said.

The remark comes after the BJP did not keep its promise of sharing equal seats for the elections. He also warned that the Sena should not be “back-stabbed”.

Thackeray also promised a complete farm-loan waiver for the state’s farmers. “I do not like the work “maafi”, I will give a complete loan “mukti” to the farmers after coming back to power. In the entire state, Sena will reduce the electricity charges up to 300 units by 30%... Health check-ups will be provided at Rs1 in the state. Full meal will be provided at Rs10. Bus services to rural students. We will have to do these things,” the Sena chief declared.

Thackeray, in his 34-minute speech at Shivaji Park in Dadar, spoke on a variety of issues, including pressing for a special law to facilitate the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, vendetta politics in the state, and also took on the NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar.

The Sena chief said that though PM Narendra Modi has asked to wait for a court verdict on the Ayodhya case, there should be a special legislation to build the temple. “Even today we are saying make a special legislation and build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. We are not leaving this issue. We don’t want Ram Mandir just for politics. This is a demand of the whole country, its Hindus. Our motto is not to back out of our promises. We stick to our promises,” he said.

Justifying his decision to ally with the BJP, he said it was done for the sake of Hindutva. He refuted that the Sena bowed before the BJP in the alliance. “The Sena never bows down in front of anyone and no one can make it. We did an alliance for Hindutva. Had we not given support to the BJP, then should we have backed Congress, which is criticising the scrapping of Article 370 and is a party that wanted to scrap sedition,” he said.

Thackeray also reminded Home Minister Amit Shah to bring in the Uniform Civil Code and also “drive out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.”

Referring to Enforcement Directorate (ED) naming NCP chief Sharad Pawar in the Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank case, the Sena chief said that politics of vendetta will not be tolerated in Maharashtra. At the same time, he reminded NCP that the Congress-NCP government had tried to arrest Sena founder Bal Thackeray in connection with the 1992-93 Mumbai riots case.

He slammed former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and said that “karma” is catching up with him. “We saw one drama. Ajit Pawar had tears in his eyes. I had heard about crocodile tears, but saw them for the first time. He said he will do agriculture, fine but what will you do if there is no water in the dams. Don’t forget what water you had shown to farmers once. Your karma is making you cry today,” he said.

Thackeray, before ending his speech, asked the Sena workers if they are with him in the decision to ally with the BJP. “We are going forward. Is my decision acceptable to you? I ask you to work with modesty for the alliance and we will hoist the saffron flag” he said.

Shiv Sena fields candidate opposite Nitesh Rane

Though chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has cautioned rebels in both the parties not to scuttle chances of alliance candidates, the Shiv Sena on Tuesday admitted Satish Sawant into its fold. Sawant is contesting opposite former chief minister Narayan Rane’s son Nitesh in Kankavli constituency of Sindhudurg district. Significantly, Nitesh Rane is contesting as a BJP candidate. The BJP has not reacted to the Sena’s move yet.