Perhaps realising that the regional card is his best bet in the upcoming state polls, MNS chief Raj Thackeray tried to sell old wine in a new bottle yesterday when he said, “I personally feel that national parties are needed at the Centre and regional parties should look after state politics. My party will not contest the Lok Sabha elections and we will concentrate more on state politics and addressing the issues in Maharashtra.”
Lost in thought: Raj Thackeray at the interaction organised by Mantralaya reporters yesterday. Pic/Sayyed sameer Abedi
The statement also probably had something to do with the fact that his party had failed to get even one of its candidates elected in the recent Lok Sabha polls. But, speaking at an interactive session at Y B Chavan auditorium yesterday, Raj said that every defeat teaches a lesson, and the MNS had learnt a lot from the Lok Sabha debacle, which will help it in its growth.
Raj said that, personally, he did not want the MNS to contest the Lok Sabha elections but the party had contested because of various factors, including the fact that party workers wanted it to contest.
When reporters asked him whether he regretted supporting Modi during the Lok Sabha elections, Raj said, “ I don’t think I did anything wrong by supporting Modi as I am still of the opinion that in that particular political scenario, Narendra Modi was the most eligible person to become the PM of the country.”
That did not, however, prevent the mercurial MNS chief from launching a broadside against the PM and his government. “My only opinion is that now that he has become the PM, he should concentrate on the Centre… After the Modi government came to power, the BJP leaders had said that they wont tolerate any nonsense from Pakistan, but the same BJP later invited the Pakistan PM for Modi’s swearing-in- ceremony. Are these the acche din which the BJP was speaking about before the Lok Sabha elections?”
Raj also condemned the statement made by Modi’s close aide and Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel, urging investors to choose Gujarat over “congested” Mumbai.
“Modi has been speaking on various issues, but he has still not given any clarification on whether he agrees with the statement made by Anandiben Patel,” he said.
Taking potshots at politicians who clear development proposals on the basis of the commission they get, Raj said, “Development will only take place when the politicians who clear the files stop thinking about the percentage or commission they get. People should look at Yashwantrao Chavan because it was he who created better infrastructure, which was one of the most important reasons for investors choosing Mumbai and Maharashtra to set up their businesses.”
Raj added that other leaders like the late Balasaheb Thackeray, and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, have also played a role in Maharashtra’s development.
The MNS chief, however, got angry when journalists asked him why he had done a U-turn on contesting the Assembly elections after declaring that he would do so.
Vidarbha and Belgaum
Commenting on statehood for Vidarbha, Raj said, “I am of the opinion that Vidarbha is very much a part of Maharashtra and MNS does not support statehood for Vidarbha.”
On the Belgaum issue, he said, “For many years, politicians have not solved the issue because there was a lack of will. I would be happy if Belgaum is a part of Maharashtra but if the people there are getting all the facilities they need in Karnataka, they should stay there. It should not happen that after becoming a part of Maharashtra they feel that staying in Karnataka would have been better.”