'Will shoot anyone trying to tear Mumbai from state'

Full of sardonic barbs on a spectrum of issues, Sena chief Bal Thackeray addressed supporters at Shivaji Park yesterday. He, however, refrained from mentioning estranged nephew Raj. Here are some snippets

At the Shiv Sena's annual Dussehra rally yesterday, Bal Thackeray, in his feeble drawl enhanced by the loudspeaker in silent zone Shivaji Park, seemed quite capable of covering the state curriculum in his speech. 

All of Thackeray's men: Bal Thackeray, flanked by the top guard of
his party, waves to his supporters at the Sena's Dussehra rally at Shivaji
Park yesterday.

PICS/Pradeep Dhivar

However, offering up advice and opinion on a host of issues to a pack of personages in the political arena, the Sena supremo conspicuously refrained from commenting on the rebel child of the Thackeray family. Despite MNS chief Raj Thackeray's recent potshots against the Sena, there were no comebacks from Thackeray Sr.
The rest, however, was in order.

Under his patronage: The comparatively less noisy crowd sits in rapt
attention to hear what Sena leaders have to say

No renaming Dadar
While addressing the crowd at Shivaji Park, Thackeray raised the point of renaming Dadar to Chaityabhoomi, a move that he is against.

"How does changing Dadar's name help anybody? Till the time this world exists, Dadar shall remain Dadar."

On potholes
Potholes contributed to the lion's share of his discourse. Defending the civic body, he said the ditches are not the BMC's responsibility alone.

It's a family thing: Yuva Sena President Aaditya shares a moment with
his father, Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray

"Every pothole is made out to be BMC's fault, even the one on the roads of MMRDA or those on the bridges made by the state government."

Thackeray saw to it that he doesn't mention Raj at all, despite the latter mocking Uddhav Thackeray for 'photographing animals instead of potholes'.

On Mumbai
His vehement feelings over the notion that Mumbai would be taken away from Maharashtra were intense, even violent. "I will shoot with a pistol anyone who tries to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra."

On sons-of-the-soil
Delineating who is to be given preference when it comes down to the city's development, Thackeray was unequivocal. In line with the party's original ideology of Bhoomiputra, he reiterated that Kolis and Bhandaris, the original inhabitants of Mumbai, should be accorded priority. "The government shouldn't think of reclaiming land from the sea as it would affect the Kolis."

He also said that mill workers' contribution to the formation of Mumbai is more than anyone else's, and the government should provide them with houses. He added that his party's patronage would always be with them.

'Vote for us'
Getting down to business, he asked his supporters to vote for his party in the corporation elections scheduled for next year.

On renaming Sea Link
Coming down heavily on the NCP over the naming of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link after late PM Rajiv Gandhi, he said, "Pawar did it to please that old lady Sonia Gandhi. It should be torn down. The government has forgotten the contributions made by stalwarts such as Jugannath Sankarsett, who introduced railway to the city." 

Age notwithstanding, a frail Thackeray was at his wittiest while referring to the party. He referred to Home Minister RR Patil as Charlie Chaplin, and recommended a job for him - protecting the nameplate at Sea Link that names the bridge after Rajiv Gandhi. He then proceeded to ask his supporters to break the nameplate.

'Hang afzal guru'
"I hope the court has referred to civic administration when it remarked recently that BMC should be locked," said Thackeray. "Would it also order locking the government for its failure to hang Afzal Guru for nine yours?"
He further said, "I would have dissolved Jammu & Kashmir Assembly for CM Omar Abdullah's statement that valley would erupt into flames if Afzal Guru is hanged."

'Dumping ground'
In an indictment of the Congress' capability to protect the nation, he said, "The Congress-led government has turned the entire nation into a dumping ground. The anarchy is at our doorstep, with the Chinese army increasing its presence in Gilgit."

Mixed bag
Except MLC Ramdas Kadam, no other Sena leader targeted MNS chief Raj Thackeray. The Sena may not want to antagonise the MNS chief as he has dented the party's Marathi vote bank, sources said. Meanwhile, party executive chief Uddhav Thackeray took potshots at its ally BJP, saying that this was not the right time to decide on who will be the next prime minister.

Bal Thackeray was the softest
Bal Thackeray scored the lowest on the decibel meter of all Sena leaders as per reports. Sumaira Abdulali, founder, Awaaz foundation, was at Shivaji Park to measure the sound levels. "This year, as there was no use of fire crackers, the rally was not that noisy as it was last year," Sumaira said.

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