Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray poured ridicule on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's `desh badal raha hai' campaign, yet refrained from going hammer and tongs at ally BJP .
Thackeray was addressing his party workers on the occasion of the Sena's 50th birthday . In his 30-minute speech in Goregaon, Thackeray spoke of a “respectable alliance“ with the BJP for the BMC elections, triggering speculation that Matoshree may have left the door half-open for seat sharing talks with the BJP .
Yet, in the same breath, he exhorted Sainiks to be prepared to go solo in the civic elections in 10 cities, including Mumbai and Thane, next year. Thackeray had to do some tight-rope walking given the volatile situation in state politics, sources said. “The country may be changing, but the situation (in the country) hasn't changed. The re is non-stop infiltration from China, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism remains unabated and prices of essential commodities are soaring,“ he said. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray sa id on Sunday , “We will not go down on bended knees for a poll alliance. We want a respectable alliance...I don't exactly know about the (BJP) alliance's future. We will have to be ready to fight and win on our own strength,“ he added.
Thackeray's speech, which was meant to commemorate the Sena's historic moment, offered nothing new to party workers, said observers. While he couldn't stop targeting the BJP , given his party mouthpiece Saamna's strident stand against the Sena's senior ally in recent months, he struck a friendly note too, offering Sena's help to the BJP to curb price rise and streamline administration. “The Sena is in power. So, we feel the responsibility that comes with the power,“ he said as if in justification of his party's frequent attacks on the BJP .
Thackeray's climbdown can be attributed to a series of clever moves by the BJP over the last few days. For instance, Union minister for urban development Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday asked the state BJP executive committee to soothe Matoshree's ruffled feathers in view of the upcoming civic elections in Maharashtra.
Acknowledging BJP's gestures, Thackeray chided NCP president Sharad Pawar for trying to create a wedge in the saffron alliance. Pawar had recently asked Thackeray to quit the BJP government if the Sena was a suffering partner in the alliance.“We don't need advice from Pawar...the NCP shared power with the Congress in Maharashtra for full 15 years, and the two parties often fought and clashed. Pawar need not worry about the BJP-Sena ties,“ Thackeray said.
Striking a retro note, Thackeray recalled the Babri demolition and the subsequent political turmoil in the 1990s. “The Sena was then dubbed a `goonda' party . We may be goons, but just ask yourself one question. What would have been the fate of Hindus of Mumbai if the Sena was not present on the scene?'' he said. The Ram temple issue has been conveniently forgotten, he remarked.
Paying a tribute to Balasaheb, Uddhav asked, “You may have seen many chief ministers and many PMs, but how many Hindu `hriday samrats' have you seen?“