Do it if you can: Uddhav Thackeray dares opposition to topple his govt
In the last of the two-part interview to the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana, Thackeray said the fate of his government was not in the hands of the opposition.Updated: Jul 26, 2020 14:28 IST
Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday challenged the opposition to pull his government down as the Maharashtra chief minister emphasised he was at the helm of the three-party coalition government in the state.
In the last of the two-part interview to the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana, Thackeray said the fate of his government was not in the hands of the opposition.
The chief minister, while speaking to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, also targeted the Centre’s ambitious Mumbai- Ahmedabad bullet train project to put his point across.
Replying to a question related to the opposition criticism that his government was a three-wheeled vehicle, in a reference to his alliance partners - the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, Thackeray said his Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government represents the poor people.
“If it is the choice between a bullet train and a three-wheeler, I will choose the latter as it is the travelling mode of the poor people. It is a strong government and I am at the steering wheel with two other partners,” he said.
Thackeray, who will turn 60 on Monday, also pointed at the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre to deflect the criticism.
“The ones who have been raising questions about our ‘three-wheeler’ should look at the government at the Centre. How many parties are there as coalition partners? When I attended the NDA meeting last time, there were 30-35 leaders representing ruling parties. It should be called a ‘train’ government then,” he added.
Thackeray said that there were no differences between the three parties even though there was a lack of continuous dialogue due to the outbreak of the Covid-19.
“Congress had some issues related to the matters on public policies. After our meeting, they have been solved. We have better coordination between us. I take guidance regularly from NCP chief Sharad Pawar Saheb and occasionally speak Soniaji Gandhi,” he said.
The Shiv Sena chief also took a dig at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its alleged attempt to topple the Congress government in Rajasthan. He said Operation Lotus would not reap any success in Maharashtra.
“It is strange that the use of money for political gain is not a crime and the opponents are targeted using central agencies. But this would not last for too long. They should also keep in mind that days keep passing by,” he said.
“They tried to topple the Rajasthan government perhaps because there is no pandemic spread in that state or in Madhya Pradesh. The leader of opposition [Devendra Fadnavis] criticised the Maharashtra government over the handling of Covid-19 during his Delhi visit, perhaps because the pandemic exists only in our state and not in Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh,” he said.
The chief minister said it was not correct to say that the decision-making process regarding the coronavirus pandemic in the state is driven by the bureaucracy.
“Our handling of Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Dharavi, has been applauded at the international level. I was chosen as among the popular chief ministers. If the bureaucracy was at the driving seat, why was the government praised and was it done by the bureaucracy without any control from the government?” he asked.
“The government policies are after all implemented by the officers and the bureaucracy and is the duty of the government to stand firm by the efficient officers. I will firmly support such officers,” he added.
Thackeray said he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a uniform decision over the policies related to China as India is faced with a border standoff with that country.
“Our policies related to China should not be deviating as they differ in case of Pakistan. During times of trouble, we boycott these countries and after a few days extend an olive branch before them. During one of our interactions, I requested Modiji to take a firm stand on China and decide finally on the trade with Chinese companies. We have put our memorandum of understanding with them (Chinese companies) on hold,” the CM said.
Thackeray said the decision to allow the bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will be taken on the basis of people’s mandate. He said he would want to a bullet train to run between Mumbai and Nagpur as it will prove more beneficial for the development of the state.
“My individual opinion or that of my party’s stand on the bullet train project could be different, but as a state, the government will take its decision at the appropriate time. Currently, it is on hold. The government decision will be based on the people’s mandate about the project and after discussing it with all the stakeholders,” he said.
Thackeray added that if the people of Maharashtra decide against the bullet train, he will cancel it.
The Shiv Sena leader also suggested a virtual bhoomi pujan ahead of the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya to avoid the crowding at the site, saying it could lead to the spread of Sars-Cov-2, which causes the coronavirus disease.
He said lakhs of Hindus from all across the globe worship Lord Ram and would want to flock for the bhoomi pujan.
“Instead of putting their lives in danger, the laying of foundation stone could be done online,” he said.