Narendra Modi snubs Uddhav Thackeray for his Ram Mandir rant

Updated: Sep 20, 2019, 07:36 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Seeks a majority for the BJP in Maharashtra as talk of pre-poll alliance hangs in balance

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks off BJP's official campaign for the assembly elections at Nashik on Thursday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks off BJP's official campaign for the assembly elections at Nashik on Thursday

As part of a speech that kicked off BJP's official campaign for the upcoming state assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray, albeit without naming the ally, for making 'unwarranted' statements on the Ram Mandir dispute. He called the party leaders badbole, bayaan bahadur (big mouths) and appealed to them to have trust in the Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver a verdict soon. 'Have faith in SC'

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's Mahajanadesh Yatra, which has covered almost 4,500 km across the state, culminated on Thursday with Modi's speech. With the dates for the elections to be announced soon, Modi praised Fadnavis for his stable government, good governance and ability to keep corruption in check.

Days after calling Thackeray a younger brother, Modi said, "I wonder why some badbole and bayaan bahadur are making unwarranted statements over Ram Mandir. People are expected to have respect for and trust in the Supreme Court and Dr Ambedkar's constitution. The court is hearing everyone. I wonder where these bayaan bahadur have come from? Why are they creating hurdles? I request them to keep their eyes shut for the sake of Prabhu Ram and respect the country's judiciary."

Garnering support for his party, Modi appealed to the people of the state to vote for BJP so that Fadnavis could give them a politically stable government. "Devendra ji is the second CM in the state to complete a full term. Stable governments accelerate state's growth. I wish the earlier governments in Maharashtra too had majority," he added.

The statements are seen as veiled caution for the Sena, which has put forward seat-sharing conditions for a pre-poll alliance with the BJP. If the talks fail like in 2014, then the BJP would seek a majority to run the government.  Tension over the Ram Mandir issue intensified earlier this week when the Sena chief said that the Centre must form a law to expedite construction of a Ram mandir in Ayodhya.

The Sena chief has also been trying to corner the BJP over the Aarey land issue. Also, Thackeray's representative in the state government Divakar Raote stayed the Motor Vehicle Act's implementation in the state, apparently without consulting Fadnavis.  Raote also told a private news channel that the alliance wouldn't happen if the Sena didn't get half of the 288 assembly seats. Insiders said BJP's National President Amit Shah, who is expected to visit Mumbai on September 22 for a party function, might conduct the final alliance talks with the Sena leadership.

Making a new Kashmir

Speaking further, Modi said, "We have been saying Kashmir is ours, but now it's time to say that we have to make a new Kashmir and embrace every Kashmiri. We have fulfilled the country's wish (by abrogating article 370), now 130 crore people should resolve to recreate a paradise in Kashmir and heal its people's pain." He said it was the country's collective responsibility to free Kashmir of violence, terror and corruption. "The neighbouring country is trying to destabilise the state again. The Kashmiri youth have made up their minds to come out of the prolonged spell of violence and instability. They want development and jobs," added Modi.

'Not expected of Pawar'

Hitting out at the Opposition, Modi said he did not expect a mature leader like Sharad Pawar to speak in favour of Pakistan. "I can understand the Congress's confused state of mind, but I'm pained when Pawar makes such statements to gain votes. The Congress and NCP may criticise Devendra ji and me because it is their right as the Opposition. We must identify the people who make statements that help terror-friendly countries in attacking India. It's Pawar's choice if he likes the neighbouring country and its leadership, but Indians know where terror breeds."

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