A day after declaring that the Maharashtra government had been put on a "notice period", Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said it is time to think of a "grand alliance" of regional parties as a formidable combination to take on national parties. "There have been many friends of BJP like Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee and (late) Jayalalithaa, who had in the past opted out of the NDA, fought elections on their own and won.
"But we (Shiv Sena) were innocent. Hoping for good days and for the sake of the Hindutva we stayed put (in the alliance)," he told reporters here. Thackeray escalated his aggressive stand saying he is open to withdrawing support to the state ministry, if the senior partner (BJP) failed to clear its stand on issues his party had raised time and again. "We are not an enemy of BJP and it is unfortunate that we are seen as their opposition. We are open to withdrawing support to the government if they do not make clear their stand on various issues in the coming days," he said.
Thackeray, whose party has begun to foray outside its home turf Maharashtra, said, "Not fighting the polls earlier was our mistake, as a result of which our workers in other states joined other parties". He also said there is a vacuum of "Hindutva" from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari. "I am thinking of forging a Maha Sangh (grand alliance) by bringing together regional parties because all national parties are only concerned about themselves. They ask for votes but shirk responsibility of development and welfare of local people," he said.
Justifying his idea of a regional front, Thackeray claimed people have rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi in states like Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala after he swept the Lok Sabha polls in 2014. "Modi had made many promises like Uniform Civil Code, building Ram temple and teaching Pakistan a lesson. But what has he done in the last two and a half years? Did surgical strikes stop infiltration at the borders and killing of our jawans. He (Modi) talks of the work his government has done but does he have any proof to substantiate his claims," the Sena chief said.
Shiv Sena's ties with BJP have worsened against the backdrop of the upcoming civic body elections in Maharashtra, especially in its political heartland Mumbai, where the two parties are engaged in a fierce battle. "They (BJP) say that they wanted transparency in civic administration. But is asking for 114 seats a measure to gauge transparency? They actually do not need friends any more. Yet, there is a feeling of love, culture and ideology left in us", he said. "Why did Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) send his people for alliance talks with us if they thought BMC was not transparent? Why did they suddenly talk of transparency after we decided to go it alone?" Thackeray asked.
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