In an interview with mid-day, the seething commander of Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray, raises several questions over BJP’s role as the leading partner of NDA, the decision to appoint a new state governor without consulting the Sena, and whether he would tie up with estranged cousin Raj
Fighting a battle for his party’s future after he realised the BJP was trying to clip their wings, Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray addressed five rallies on Tuesday, after his seven-rally record on Monday. mid-day caught up with him at Solapur on Tuesday, a day after he trained his guns on none other than Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray says his vision for the state is clear and that he foresees his party coming to power. File pic
What was your stand during talks with the BJP?
It is the NDA government, but they call it the Modi government; did we object to this? They launched Mission-272 (before the Lok Sabha polls), but we did not oppose it. Why were they affronted when we set our Mission-150? You (referring to BJP) wanted to rob 34 seats of mine and were not ready to give one seat of my choice. Why?
Thackeray questioned that if BJP president Amit Shah could envision a BJP government in Maharashtra, why couldn’t he? File pic
At what stage, exactly, did you feel it was not going to be a joint fight against Congress and NCP?
The way the BJP leaders were talking during the seat-sharing discussions, I thought I would have to work as a subordinate of Delhi. The situation that was emerging was more dangerous than the Congress rule. When I was asked to respect Delhi (central unit of BJP), I gave them an earful about the respect Delhi had offered to us in the last 25 years.
We didn’t say a single word when only one person from Shiv Sena was inducted into the union cabinet, despite us having 18 MPs. Did you show any respect when you appointed a new governor (Ch. Vidyasagar Rao)? I came to know of the appointment through newspapers. It wasn’t so before. When the issue of the then governor P C Alexander came before the NDA government, then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee had called Balasaheb and asked for his opinion. Balasaheb had said Alexander was a good person and could be allowed to continue. His word was kept.
I clearly told O P Mathur (BJP’s in-charge for assembly polls in the state) that Delhi’s mandate was not acceptable. When I was asked whether I have done any survey, I said we believe in hard work and not in survey outcomes. It was BJP chief Amit Shah who told me to speak only with O P Mathur and state chief Devendra Fadnavis.
There are reports that efforts are on to bring you and Raj Thackeray together after the polls?
I don’t think Raj’s help will be required after the state assembly polls. I can see the Sena government coming to power. I have a vision for the state. I have spoken about it in the past.
Though you criticise the BJP, you are still part of the NDA government.
How can we back out from the NDA unilaterally? We also have taken serious efforts to make the NDA government a reality; we have contributed to the wins of BJP MPs, too. How can we leave the government all alone? Haven’t I asserted that Modi should be the prime minister of India? Quitting the government does not solve the matter.
I can see that people are angry over the way the alliance was broken. When I speak about Congress-NCP, people among the audience ask me to speak about the BJP. Now, before asking me whether we would go for a post-poll alliance (with the BJP), ask them (BJP) why they broke a 25-year-old pre-poll partnership with us. Are they still sticking up for Hindutva? The BJP’s lotus has turned white from its original saffron colour (he referred to a white lotus on PM Modi’s chest. But, one of his party men later clarified, saying that according to BJP leaders, the white lotus was keeping in tune with the symbol as it appears on the electronic voting machine).
Don’t you think the focus of campaigning has changed? When it should be against the Congress-NCP, it has become Sena versus BJP.
Congress-NCP is now history because of their scam-tainted misrule of the last 15 years. They are going to pay a heavy price for their misdeeds. I expect all Hindus and Marathis to not get misguided on the issue of the state’s prestige.
Will you join hands with the BJP to form a government because BJP leaders are avoiding censuring Sena?
I’m contesting 286 seats, much more than the BJP. I want to realise my dream of a unified Maharashtra. BJP wants to divide Maharashtra. Its state unit chief Devendra Fadnavis has recently said his party was in favour of smaller states. Even the Congress has now alleged that BJP has a plan to divide Mumbai. It needs to be looked into, as to what makes them say such things.
Were you worried about the future of your party during the talks?
The way BJP snapped ties with Kuldeep Bishnoi-led Haryana Janhit Congress and engaged in seat sharing talks with us, indicates its game plan of finishing smaller parties off. How will people believe you in such situations? My vision about the state is clear. Tell me who is your (BJP’s) candidate for the CM’s post.
BJP chief Fadnavis has asked whom you are fighting against.
If you backstab me by snapping ties, who am I supposed to be fighting against? If they say my desire to become the CM of Maharashtra was a major hurdle in seat sharing, why were they, then, were asking for 34 seats? Amit Shah spoke about a BJP government in Maharashtra. So, what I foresee is a sin, and what you see is a dream?
It is said that no decision in the BJP is taken without Modi’s approval. Do you think the decision to annul ties with the Sena also received his consent?
The PM has said he won’t criticise the Shiv Sena as a mark of respect for Bal Thackeray, as this is the first election after our founder’s passing. But, the first election with the BJP was also fought under Balasaheb’s leadership. So, why did you break the alliance immediately in the election after his death? What happened now? If you maintain such respect for us, why did you ditch us? If this is how you treat a longtime partner, how are you going to fulfil the demands of your current partners?
You said an army of Afzal Khan has entered the state and Modi has come to divide the state.
I did not compare Modi with Afzal Khan. What I meant was that people from Delhi have come to the state to conquer it. And that it spelt big trouble for the state. It is similar to the situation when Afzal Khan had come to defeat Chhatrapati Shivaji. But I won’t compare myself to the Maratha king.