All eyes were on Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park. With the resurgence of a volatile Sena, political circles were abuzz — and Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray made the most of the situation.
“We want to work for the people,” said Uddhav Thackeray, as he quashed rumours of the BJP-Sena alliance breaking up and clarified that the two parties would continue to work together. Pic/Rane Ashish
Thackeray made a calculated speech, countering RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s observations that the eternal Hindu culture alone could keep our diverse society together. He questioned the very eternity of Hindutva, while speaking at the rally on Thursday.
Rise of Muslims
“The Muslim population has increased to 25 crore in the past 25 years. What will happen to Hindus in next 25 years if they (Muslims) continue to grow at this pace? Will this great country survive if the Hindus aren’t there (in adequate number)?” he asked. Bhagwat, in his address, had discussed population growth, but as an important aspect in achieving development in the next 50 years. He asked whether population was a boon or bane.
In his Vijaya Dashami address at the RSS headquarters at Nagpur on Thursday morning, Bhagwat was all praise for the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at the Centre. But Thackeray slammed the BJP for not being able to control the rising inflation. He said the failure to control inflation, may knock the BJP government out of power, though he saw this government as the last hope for the country.
Bhagwat did not say it directly, but in a way, he attributed the BJP’s success to the swayamsevaks and the RSS’ 90-year-old efforts of galvanizing the energies of Hindu society for nation building. He said when an efficient and organised society works persistently for the betterment of the nation for a long time, only then does the nation become prosperous.“The mission of RSS is to prepare such workers who can organise society for this noble cause,” Bhagwat told RSS volunteers, who included Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Nitin Gadkari, both clad in the RSS uniform.
Thackeray didn’t approve of the RSS-BJP’s now-discreet Hindutva agenda. He hit the partner where it hurts the most. “They say they will build the (Ram) temple there, but don’t tell us when. These announcements have never come true. And if they are really hardcore Hindus, then they must storm Pakistan. They must learn a lesson from Lord Ram who killed Ravan after storming Lanka.”
While Bhagwat advocated the need of enlightening society through dialogue at all levels, Thackeray demanded a Common Civil Code. He demanded that India must be declared a Hindu nation. “We are with you (BJP). Let’s see who opposes it,” said Thackeray in an open challenge to the BJP.
It is common knowledge that Hindutva brought the two parties together 25 years ago. They came together again after contesting the Maharashtra Assembly polls separately last year. Thackeray assured that the ties in the government would remain intact because his party respected the people’s mandate. “We want to work for the people. I have asked the CM to make use of all my ministers.”
Thackeray played yet another masterstroke on Thursday when he demanded the highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, for late VD Savarkar, a Hindu ideologue revered by the BJP. He has asked the sainiks to launch a state-wide campaign to get this demand met.