Raj Thackeray tells Maharashtra farmers: Don’t give land for bullet train, e-way projects
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he kick-started his state-wide tour on Maharashtra Day, with a rally in Vasai near Mumbai.
Thackeray, who started his 2019 election campaign with the rally, urged people to not part with their lands in the state for Modi’s pet project, the Rs1.10-lakh crore Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train plan, and the proposed Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway project, which will cost Rs44,000 crore. Attacking Modi, Thackeray said he is the prime minister of Gujarat and not of the country. This is not the first time the MNS chief has attacked Modi. He had been openly critical of the PM, calling for a “Modi-mukt Bharat” during his Gudi Padwa rally.
“I was the first person in the country to support Modi for the post of PM. But he is a different person after he took over. I have not seen such a prime minister in the history of the country…he doesn’t consult anybody, he doesn’t listen to anybody’s opinions, acts on whatever comes to his mind…demonetisation is an example,” Thackeray said on Tuesday. Thackeray had already declared that he would campaign aggressively against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) central and state governments.
For several months now, Thackeray has been actively trying to regain the mass popularity that his party used to enjoy, through various campaigns, rallies and anti-BJP rhetorics. During his speech in Vasai, he also slammed chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and said he is not in the post on merit. “Devendra Fadnavis has been put on the post…he does whatever has been asked by Modi and (BJP national president Amit) Shah,” he said.
The MNS chief said he has not commenced his tour as the elections are slated next year; he said he has started the tour to “warn” people of the state. “Do not remain careless about what is happening in the state. I have come to warn that people from outside will come and rule,” he said.
In the first phase of his campaign, spread over five days, the MNS chief will cover areas on the outskirts of Mumbai, such as Palghar, Murbad, Bhiwandi and Badlapur, meeting MNS office-bearers, prominent local citizens and social groups and soliciting their views.
Indications are that Thackeray has the tacit support of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, who is working to bring all political parties opposed to BJP under one umbrella. Thackeray and Pawar have met and are believed to have discussed this matter.