Asserting that his support to the BJP in Maharashtra should not be taken for granted, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray today said his party had joined the Government to provide stability to the State, where no party had emerged clear winner in the October Assembly polls.
"Just because we are in Government, one should not draw the conclusion that we have surrendered. The day we feel that people's interest and welfare are not being taken care of, Shiv Sena will put its foot down," he maintained.
Uddhav was addressing party workers at Shanmukhanand Hall here at a function organised on the occasion of 89th birth anniversary of Sena founder Bal Thackeray. He said the Sena had not made any compromises while joining the BJP-led Government and its support should not be taken for granted.
BJP ended its over two decades old alliance with Sena ahead of the October 15 Assembly polls, but none of them could secure clear mandate. However, political realism forced the two parties to come together after weeks of tug-of-war over portfolios and angry exchange of words.
Uddhav said his party's pet project of telemedicine would be launched in the State in the next few days. "I want to give Shiv Sainiks a chance to serve the people," Uddhav said, referring to the project, where telecommunication and information technologies would be used to provide health care to people in far-flung areas.
Speaking on the issue of a memorial to Thackeray, the Sena chief said putting up a mere statue does not symbolise a commemorative structure which should be grand in nature.
"I will not request people to build a memorial. If it has to happen, it should happen on a grand scale." Justifying the "ghar wapsi" (homecoming) programme of Hindutva outfits, Uddhav said there was nothing wrong in brining back people, who had been "forcibly" converted to other religions, into Hindu fold.
"Ghar wapsi is not new. Even during Shivaji Maharaj's time, Netaji Palkar (a general in his army) was reconverted." Uddhav said the BJP Government at the Centre should focus on "ghar wapsi" of Kashmiri Pandits (facilitating their return to native places in Jammu and Kashmir).
"It is easy to talk of repealing Article 370 and enacting Uniform Civil Code before elections. There is now a strong Government at the Centre. People of Jammu have wholeheartedly supported BJP so that these promises could be implemented," he said.
Uddhav felt the process of government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, where the recent Assembly election threw a hung verdict, will begin after conclusion of Delhi polls.
The Sena chief demanded Bharat Ratna for freedom fighter V D Savarkar, a revered figure in Maharashtra, saying his contribution in India's movement for independence was unparallelled. "The hardship he suffered in jail was tremendous. There was no parole or furlough at that time."
Uddhav lamented that Savarkar's plaque at the Andaman Cellular Jail, which was removed under the UPA Government, has still not been reinstated. Like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Savarkar was also a great a freedom fighter, he
Uddhav said his party faced a tough poll battle last year, but still it won 63 seats. "There has been a lot of struggle... but we are at nobody's mercy and not floating on any wave," he said in an apparent reference to "Modi wave".
Referring to statements from certain figures, including a BJP Member of Parliament, asking Hindus to have 4 to 10 children, Uddhav sought to know who will raise them. "It is easy to say this, but who will look after them.
Hindus don't have to just grow in numbers, they need strong leadership." The Sena leader said the funds (Rs 5.11 crore) raised from
auction of his photographs early this month will be utilised for welfare of farmers, who are facing severe water scarcity.