In a sharp reaction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s warning to Congressmen that he had prepared dossiers on them, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday warned that even he had the “horoscopes” of both Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. “Everybody who is born has a ‘janam patrika’ (horoscope). The PM must not forget this. Even we have his and Amit Shah’s ‘janam kundli’. Have they forgotten how they survived after the Godhra communal carnage? It was because my late father, Bal Thackeray stood solidly behind them,” he said.
Interacting with a select group of senior media persons at his residence ‘Matoshri’ here, Thackeray spoke on a wide range of issues, including relations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its ally in both Maharashtra and the centre, though he unilaterally snapped ties on January 26. Criticising Modi, Thackeray said that “never before has any Indian Prime Minster stooped to such levels” in politics. “All he does is mock and ridicule leaders of other parties but now people are tired of this. During the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections, he addressed 27 rallies in this state. So I demanded he should come here even for the BMC elections,” he said.
Alleging that they (BJP leaders) are “liars, who are not interesting in anything but grabbing power”, Thackeray said this was the reason he decided to break the alliance with the BJP for the civic polls and would henceforth fight all elections independently. Asked how the Shiv Sena continued with the ruling alliance in centre and Maharashtra, he countered: “Have they asked us to get out? If they don’t like us, they can leave. But they are stuck. We will decide our future course after the civic elections here.”
He recalled how, with the blessings of people like his late father Bal Thackeray and late BJP leaders Pramod Mahajan and Gopinath Munde, the alliance between the two parties was finalized and it grew from strength to strength. “At that time, my father decided that to prevent a split in the Hindu votes, the BJP would concentrate at the central level and Shiv Sena at the state level. It worked fine. But, now, the BJP wants to grab everything – the centre, state, civic bodiesa and all else,” he said.
Looking back at the past few years, it would have been much better if the Shiv Sena had gone alone, as it would have emerged into a major national political force in the past 25 years, he said. Touching on allegations by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on transparency in administration and a corruption-free government, Thackeray sarcastically said first he should look within and at his own partymen.
“All the ministers facing allegations of corruption in Maharashtra belong to the BJP. Not a single Shiv Sena minister is facing similar charges of graft,” he said. On the issue of transparency, he said the Union government has declared last week that the administration of BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation is the country’s most transparent, adding the Sena already has “complete transparency” in the civic body where all major decisions of the Standing Committee are taken in the presence of officials, opposition leaders and even media.
“We are talking of such high levels of transparency. Why can’t the BJP do the same at the state or centre? The Leaders of Opposition enjoy a cabinet status, so they should be invited to cabinet meetings along with the media,” Thackeray said. “When everything was done so transparently, with the media witness to the decisions, how can the BJP accuse Shiv Sena of corruption or malpractice?” he asked. Asked whether the war with BJP has entered a new dimension with his party praising the Congress, Thackeray said the good work they did cannot be ignored.
“There’s no question of praising the Congress. I was only appreciating the good work they have done all these years. Indira Gandhi had the guts to break Pakistan, for instance… What has the BJP done, except the ‘surgical strike’ on the borders,” he said. Asked to list the achievements of the Modi government in the past 33 months, Thackeray smiled smugly: “They have survived for so long on lies… That’s an achievement ! And they will continue doing so for the remaining 27 months.”