Final Showdown! Parties make last-ditch effort to woo voters before BMC Election
Top leaders from five parties have their final say at Saturday's rallies, making it a wrap for a dirty, divisive and hard-fought civic election. Over to you now, Mumbaikars!
Devendra Fadnavis at Chunabhatti. Pic/Shadab Khan
Fadnavis directs ire at Uddhav in last speech
Addressing his last public rally in the city on Saturday, CM Devendra Fadnavis dragged the tiger, Shiv Sena's party symbol, into his insults directed at its now-divorced ally in the civic body. “When people stand with a person, he gets the power of many tigers. I have shown what such an empowered tiger can do in Kalyan-Dombivli,” he said.
He vented his ire at Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in front of an almost full Somaiya Ground at Chunabhatti. “The current leadership has spoiled the name of Balasaheb and his legacy,” Fadnavis said. He said the Sena was feeling the heat because it had exhausted all options of wooing voters. “The Marathi people, too, want a change of guard at the BMC. It has nothing to show on the development front and has stopped singing its old song of targeting North Indians. Have you heard of migrant drivers being extorted with us in power? We treat migrants as our own,” he said.
“No doubt Mumbai belongs to the Marathi manhoos. But, those who have come from other places and integrated into the Marathi culture are also Maharashtrians,” Fadnavis said. - Dharmendra Jore and Shashank Rao
Sena chief vows to put 'ingrate' BJP in place
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray's concluding rally got ugly and personal as he accused his party's former ally of “backstabbing”.
Uddhav Thackeray at BKC. Pic/Rane Ashish
“Balasaheb [Bal Thackeray] nahi rahe, Uddhav kuch kar nahi sakta (Uddhav cannot do anything because Balasaheb is not around). This is what BJP had to say,” said Uddhav Thackeray at the final rally in Bandra Kurla Complex on February 18. “What do they know of the kind of relationship I share with my Sainiks. We were together for so long and you (BJP) attacked us from behind,” added Uddhav.
He also accused CM Devendra Fadnavis for putting his party's leader PM Narendra Modi before the state. “I didn't expect this from CM. I told him that you run the government for five years and we shall work with you. But, he has forgotten the state,” he said, adding, “The BJP claims that Sena is only for 'lena' and not 'dena'. But they have no lena or dena with Mumbai.
On BJP's accusation of corruption in the BMC, Uddhav challenged the party to show a project that hadn't been completed. “None of the Sainiks touch public money. If the BJP is saying this then what happened to the crores spent on the Ganga river-cleaning project. Has it gone into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pocket?” he asked. - Laxman Singh
'Look at Nashik, before you leap'
Taking a dig at the ongoing mudslinging between Shiv Sena and the BJP, MNS chief Raj Thackeray yesterday said that the saffron alliance is doing nothing, but fooling citizens by levelling allegations against each other.
Raj Thackeray at Dadar. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Addressing his concluding rally in his bastion Dadar, Raj said, “Sena-BJP, which has been ruling the BMC for the last 25 years has done nothing concrete for the city. Because the saffron alliance has nothing to exhibit, they (Sena-BJP) are attacking each other to divert attention of the citizens from the crucial civic polls.”
Further, explaining his stand on the polls, Raj said that the MNS has been emphasising on the development work that it has done as ruling party in Nashik. “I urge people to visit Nashik once and take review of the development work and projects. I am deliberately exhibiting them everywhere so that people understand what a party can do if it really wants to change the face of the city,” Raj said.
Reiterating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move of demonetisation has made things difficult for honest and poor people, the MNS chief slammed the PM and demanded to know how the BJP was managing funds for the civic poll campaign. “While others are struggling to raise funds, how has the BJP managed to raise funds for advertisement? They (BJP) are talking about transparency, but they should explain the source of funding too,” he said. - Sanjeev Shivadekar
Pawar offers quit-BJP pact to Uddhav's Sena
NCP chief Sharad Pawar has dared Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to withdraw support to the BJP government. He said if Uddhav does so then, he too would be ready to give in writing that his party would not extend support to stabilise the Fadnavis-led government.
Sharad Pawar at Nariman Point
Pawar said this in view of the possibility of Sena ministers handing over their resignations to Uddhav at the party's Saturday rally in Mumbai.
“I'm ready to write it down on a paper and declare at this media conference that the NCP would not support the government. I'm also ready to give this commitment to the governor today itself. But then the Sena should also tell the governor in a letter that it has quit the BJP government. The Sena should also share this letter with media,” he said.
Pawar's statement is seen as an effort to trick the Sena and BJP into a political turmoil. The leader also said that mid-term Assembly polls were imminent. “The NCP will contest the polls independently,” said.
Pawar agreed that the party hasn't performed well in BMC polls in the past 15 years. “We have failed here and hence I'm not in a position to promise that the city will do better if my party comes to power in the BMC.”
But he said his party had much better prospects elsewhere in the state. “We are still formidable in the rest of Maharashtra,” he said. - Dharmendra Jore
'Congress can end 25 years of misery'
Refusing to make peace with its thinning presence in Mumbai, Congress made a final plea to people to “vote for change”.
Sanjay Nirupam at Antop Hill
“Voters should decide whether they want a change or will continue to vote for party of extortionist and goons,” Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said, while referring to BJP and Sena.
Nirupam slammed the Sena-BJP for making the lives of Mumbaikars miserable during their 25-year-long regime in the BMC. He said that if the Congress gets voted to power, it would conduct an inquiry into the several civic scams during the saffron rule. - Sanjeev Shivadekar