The Shiv Sena supremo declares for the first time that his party has never been against Muslims
Five years might be a long time. But despite his failing health and the changing dynamics in Maharashtra politics, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray proved that he can play all the right cards as he addressed an 80,000 strong crowd at Thane's Central Maidan. For the first time, the 86-year-old took a secular stand and proclaimed that his party has never been against Muslims who love India.
Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Executive President of the party
Uddhav Thackeray wave out to the crowd at Thane's Central Maidan
while RPI chief Ramdas Athavle looks on. pic/ Sameer Markande
"My party members, especially women, had protected many Muslims during the '92-'93 riots. And those pictures were even published in newspapers. My party never discriminates when it comes to region, religion, caste or creed," said Thackeray. To drive home his message, he pointed towards former Minorities minister Shabbir Shaikh and urged the crowd to ask him if the Sena had ever discriminated against him.
The octogenarian, who is known for his sense of humour, started off his speech by asking the masses if he should mimic his nephew Raj Thackeray just like the latter apes him. It might be recalled that Raj Thackeray had addressed a rally at the same venue on February 10, 2012 and had openly aped his uncle's gestures and mannerisms.
The Sena supremo also took a dig at Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan as the latter had earlier said that after the BMC elections, Thackeray would lose his prominence in state politics. The seasoned politician asked the masses, "If I will lose significance, then how can I attract so much crowd even today? Will Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar and Prithviraj Chavan ever be able to draw so many masses?" Thackeray said that he was confident that the Shiv Sena and the BJP-RPI (A) alliance would win the forthcoming BMC elections.