Mumbai: In the sharpest attack yet on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and erstwhile ally BJP, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray wondered if a "chaiwala" (tea-vendor) can become prime minister, why couldn't he become the chief minister of Maharashtra.
"If a 'chaiwala' can become the prime minister, I can definitely become the state chief minister," Uddhav said in an interview with Sanjay Raut, executive editor, "Saamana", the party mouthpiece.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray with family cast his vote in the Maharashtra Assembly polls in Mumbai. Pic: Sayed Sameer Abedi
Excerpts of the interview, which will appear Wednesday morning - the day Maharashtra goes to elect 288 legislators - were released by an aide to Thackeray here Tuesday night.
The statement comes barely three weeks after Thackeray openly declared his chief ministerial ambitions at a public function.
However, it was not well received by the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership and it finally resulted in the severing of the 25-year-old alliance Sep 25.
Narendra Modi and Uddhav Thackeray. File pic
"For 25 years, we have been together, we have seen victories and routs. When the alliance collapsed, I felt deeply pained, but I did not succumb," Thackeray said in the interview.
Taken aback by the interview, the state BJP leaders said they were aware of Thackeray's secret ambitions which was one of the reasons they were bargaining for more seats in the elections.
Incidentally, unlike the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has strategically avoided projecting anybody as the chief ministerial candidate in the state elections, though there are many probables and hopefuls.
Prior to the latest barb on BJP, Uddhav had created a consternation when he compared the campaign by Team Modi with the attack on Maharashtra by the Bijapur general Afzal Khan's army.