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
“IF DAWOOD IBRAHIM WERE TO RETURN TO INDIA, I’M SURE THE BJP WOULD INDUCT HIM TOO”
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