India Today - - INSIDE - Cover by NILANJAN DAS Photo imag­ing by AMARJEET SINGH NAGI

Shiv Sena chief Ud­dhav Thack­eray hints at a break-up with the BJP, speaks for a re­gional league

Sit­ting promi­nently in the study of UD­DHAV

THACK­ERAY is a diminu­tive statue of his spir­i­tual guru Swami Sa­marth and a steel plaque bear­ing the words: ‘I like peo­ple who can get things done.’ Now, in the build-up to the Bri­han­mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (BMC) polls, the Shiv Sena chief is in­vok­ing the motto as a pos­si­ble rea­son to break with the BJP. “Things are not get­ting done,” Ud­dhav says, im­pa­tience writ large on his face. He talks of grudges he holds against Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi over not be­ing con­sulted on key pol­icy de­ci­sions like de­mon­eti­sa­tion. He says he feels “iso­lated” in the al­liance. Excerpts from an in­ter­view with Ki­ran D. Tare ahead of the Fe­bru­ary 21 BMC polls:

Q. Are you go­ing to with­draw sup­port to the Devendra Fad­navis gov­ern­ment?

A. Our un­hap­pi­ness is limited to the gov­ern­ment’s poli­cies. It’s not a crime for a ma­hout to use a goad to con­trol the ele­phant. Can we af­ford to have the ma­hout get off, let the ele­phant run amok? But then if the ele­phant is out of con­trol, the ma­hout has to get off it. Q. So the gov­ern­ment is on a no­tice pe­riod? A. The BJP has as­sured waiver of farm loans in Ut­tar Pradesh but it ne­glects our de­mand for a sim­i­lar waiver in Ma­ha­rash­tra. Why can’t

a fi­nan­cially sound state like Ma­ha­rash­tra waive farm­ers’ loans? The Cen­tre col­lected a tax of Rs 2 lakh crore from Mumbai this year. We are de­mand­ing that the lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion must get a 25 per cent share of this. The al­liance can­not move ahead till they (BJP) re­spond. Q. You are part of the gov­ern­ment, but you say your mind is not with it?

A. It is time for peo­ple to think about the qual­ity of the gov­ern­ment they have elected. They (BJP) have been in­duct­ing peo­ple with crim­i­nal back­grounds. Ear­lier, (Atal Bi­hari) Va­j­payee and (L.K.) Ad­vani were their faces. Now, Pappu Kalani (a con­victed mur­derer) is their face. If Dawood Ibrahim re­turns to In­dia, I’m sure BJP will in­duct him too. They were talk­ing about achhe din, Ram tem­ple, Ar­ti­cle 370, uni­form civil code. What have they done? Q. You had re­frained from crit­i­cis­ing Fad­navis. Why are you tak­ing him on now? A. He was new at the time but it’s now clear he’s ly­ing. He had promised a Rs 6,500 crore pack­age to Kalyan-Dom­bivli (in 2015). Not a sin­gle paisa has been re­leased. He’s not been able to get clear­ances from the Cen­tre for devel­op­ment of Mumbai’s east coast and coastal road. The pro­posal for con­vert­ing the


race­course land into a world-class theme park is stuck. His com­par­i­son, say­ing Mumbai was as back­ward as Patna, is an in­sult to both the cities. Q. Do you want the CM re­placed? A. The CM will be re­placed in 2019. Then it will be a CM from the Shiv Sena. Q. Is re­gional pride still an is­sue in this age?

A. Of course! In fact, I am will­ing to form a league of re­gional parties. Let us have a com­mon min­i­mum pro­gramme apart from the pride of ev­ery state. If I work for Marathi pride, let Ni­tish Ku­mar do it for Bi­hari pride and Ma­mata Ban­er­jee for Ben­gali pride. But we should be to­gether on sev­eral sub­jects. Q. What are these sub­jects? A. First let them re­spond to my pro­posal. Q. Can the Shiv Sena grow with­out the BJP? A. The Shiv Sena rot­ted through the 25 years of its al­liance with the BJP. We were ex­pand­ing af­ter the Babri Masjid de­mo­li­tion. How­ever, Balasa­heb was of the view that there should not be di­vi­sion in the Hin­dutva parties, so he al­lowed the BJP to grow in other states and con­cen­trated on Ma­ha­rash­tra. n

PEN­SIVE STATE Shiv Sena chief Ud­dhav Thack­eray has a lot to think about

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