Even as the tension between the allies comes to a boil, the BJP can bank on Shiv Sena to stick it out in the government, but will also have to put up with regular potshots, as was indicated during Uddhav Thackeray’s annual Shivaji Park Dussehra Rally yesterday.
Uddhav Thackeray, flanked by Sena leaders Manohar Joshi, Ramdas Kadam and Sanjay Raut, said his father Bal Thackeray was probably looking down upon them with pride and thinking that Shiv Sainiks are still like tigers. Pic/Rane Ashish
Although the Sena chief repeatedly referred to the BJP as a ‘friend’ during the hour-long speech, he didn’t shy away from criticising the party, whether on the issue of the Dadri lynching or rising daal prices.
Read Story: Sainiks put up poster, Sena pulls it down
To start with, he attacked the BJP’s stand on the Ram temple in Ayodhya, questioning why the party had not committed to a time frame for establishing the temple. “They say, mandir wahin banayenge… taarik nahin batayenge (They talk about building the temple there, but not when it will happen).”
The Ram angle
All eyes have been on the Sena during the last few weeks, with the party taking a hard-line stance against any cultural ties between India and Pakistan, first forcing the cancellation of performances by Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali, and then smearing Observer Research Foundation chief Sudheendra Kulkarni’s face with ink for promoting the book of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.
On Dussehra, Uddhav compared his party’s anti-Pakistan protests to Ravan dahan, “Had the media been there when Ram killed Ravan, they would have called everyone and asked them to debate about whether Ram was right in attacking Ravan.”
Carrying the allegory forward, he added, “Ram had entered Lanka to kill Ravan. If we respect Ram, then like him, we should enter Pakistan and kill them. Sena supremo (Bal Thackeray) must be looking down at us and thinking that his Sainiks are still like tigers.”
There has been much attention on the party’s anti-Pakistan stand, especially following recent events, and Uddhav was well aware of this. “Everyone has been speculating about what I am going to say. This might have never happened, but both our enemy, Pakistan, and our friend, BJP have been waiting for us to speak,” he said.
The Sena chief recounted that Sudheendra had gone to meet him before Kasuri’s book launch to explain why the event should be held. “He told me that Kasuri’s book also spoke about mistakes made by Pakistan, so we should allow the launch. Tomorrow, if Dawood comes and accepts that the ’93 blasts were a mistake, should we forgive him?” was Uddhav’s retort.
Further, he questioned why the BJP was so keen on having the Pakistani cricket team visit Mumbai. mid-day had reported how the party had offered to provide the players protection as well (‘India vs Pak or Sena vs BJP?’, October 20). “Why are we giving Pakistanis security, when they even refuse our sweets during Eid,” Uddhav asked.
‘Won’t break ties’
Bringing a full stop to the rumours of the BJP-Sena alliance crumbling, Uddhav said, “We are not those who will break a family. But we are Shiv Sena; we will never let go of our ideology. Only when our work is done will we get out of the government.”
No sooner had he said this, than he launched a barrage of digs at the BJP. Playing on the words ink and blot (referring to the ink attack on Sudheendra), Uddhav said it was not his party’s actions but the Dadri lynching incident that was a “kalank” (blot) on the nation.
“The Dadri incident is a blot on the country. If you want the cow to be protected then declare India a Hindu Rashtra and bring in a Uniform Civil Code. Then let’s see what happens,” challenged Uddhav.
He also questioned the BJP’s sincerity towards the Dalit community, which had cause to celebrate recently after PM Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a memorial to Dr BR Ambedkar at Indu Mills in central Mumbai recently.
“One of their leaders equated dogs to Dalits; then why did they inaugurate the Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mills” questioned Uddhav, highlighting Union minister of state VK Singh’s comments on the death of two Dalit children in an attack in a Haryana village, saying the central government could not be held responsible if someone stones a dog.
“When BJP was with us, we use to say ‘mehngai jo rok na sake woh sarkar nikkami hai’. When we were in power, we kept the prices of essential commodities in control. Why can’t the same be done now?” said Uddhav, referring to the period when Sena was leading the state and Manohar Joshi was CM in 1996. “Before protecting Pakistanis, protect daal. In Nagpur, some 25,000 tonnes of daal was stolen.”
“Veer Savarkar should get the Bharat Ratna and Shiv Sainiks should take this message to every village. Aurangzeb Road’s name was changed to that of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, which is a good move, as he was a nationalist.
The Congress couldn’t do this because they feared that green votes would leave them. Aurangabad’s name should also be changed to Sambhaji Nagar. How can the place be named after a man who wanted to destroy Hindvi Swaraj?”
He also criticised recent comments made by the saffron brigade: “There are many who say that Hindus should have 10 kids. Those people suggesting this, will they feed these kids? We don’t want such Hindus; we need Hindus who will fight terrorists. Not 100 but one tiger is sufficient to fight against terrorists.”
On Dabholkar, Pansare
“Activists like (Narendra) Dabholkar and (Govind) Pansare were killed and I say that people who did it should be hanged in public. However, since day one, the blame is being put on Hindus. The world is being told that Hindus are criminals,” said Uddhav.
“Yakub Memon was hanged, that time many suit-boot wale went to court at midnight to ask that he shouldn’t be hanged. Wasn’t that an insult to our judiciary?” Uddhav questioned, raking up the controversy over the hanging of 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon.
Takes a dig at Sharad Pawar
“Sharad Pawar says that Shiv Sena has lost self respect. I am trying to give respect, so Pawar shouldn't teach me self-respect, especially as he is a man who spent his life at the feet of Sonia Gandhi for 10-15 years for power.”
6-point salvo against ally
At the rally, Uddhav minced no words as he took constant digs at BJP on a range of issues:
Ram Janmabhoomi: BJP hasn’t declared deadline on Ram Mandir
Beef ban: If you want the cow to be protected then declare India a Hindu Rashtra
Amenities: Mobile connectivity has spread to the smallest hamlets, but electricity still lacking
Pak sympathisers: Why doesn’t BJP let Ghulam Ali sing from the Red Fort on Republic Day?
Price rise: Don’t protect Pakistanis, protect daal
Caste politics: Senior BJP leader compares Dalits to dogs, then why inaugurate Ambedkar memorial in Mumbai?