Playing the bugle for the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and several other civic bodies in the state this year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday slammed the BJP, saying efforts to “separate Mumbai” from the state would never succeed. He said the BJP was pursuing “fake Hindutva” and was diverting attention from the real issue.
Thackeray, who is also the Shiv Sena chief, also accused the former ally of engaging in dirty politics, and was surprised that it was the same BJP that the army had considered his friend for 25 years.
Notably, the Chief Minister addressed his first open-air public meeting in two years. Thackeray underwent spinal surgery in November 2021 and was under house arrest for several weeks.
The BJP has “A, B, C parties” and “gives them loudspeakers and asks them to visit the tomb of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb or recite Hanuman Chalisa,” Agarsi Thackeray said, referring to recent political debates in the state.
“The BJP will only watch jokes and hold press conferences,” he added.
Without naming his estranged cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, the chief minister said that like the character of Sanjay Dutt in “Lage Raho Munnabhai”, he thinks he is having a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi, some think they are army founder Bal Thackeray.
He also lashed out at BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fardnavis for his alleged remarks that “Mumbai will be free.” “It wasn’t a slip of the tongue, it was what he had in mind,” Thackeray said.
“Such efforts (separating Mumbai from Maharashtra) will never be allowed to succeed. After a lot of struggle and bloodshed, Maharashtra got Mumbai, ”said the Chief Minister.
“If Dawood Ibrahim decides to join the BJP, he may be made a minister. That’s probably why the central government is behind it, “he quipped.
In an apparent reference to the Enforcement Directorate’s raid on his brother-in-law’s property, Thackeray said he was exercising restraint. “I have never targeted family members of political opponents,” he said.
The BJP is slandering Maharashtra and treating it like a “burning lover” and “throwing acid”, Thackeray said, adding that his party had severed ties with the BJP after the 2019 assembly elections for the post of chief minister.
He also condemned the alleged insulting post by Marathi actor Ketki Chital about NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
As he was in Ayodhya at the time of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Thackeray targeted Farnabis and said, “If you had tried to climb the Babri Masjid, it would have broken your weight.” He then quoted senior BJP leader LK Advani as saying that those who climbed the Babri structure were Marathi-speaking.
Shiv Sena spokesperson Samana has always raised issues of national and state importance but has never insulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Thackeray said.
He further alleged that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is under the central government, “takes care of Aurangzeb’s tomb” but his government’s initiative for preservation and development of ancient temples in the state came to the fore.