Mumbai: A day after NCP leader Sharad Pawar spoke against caste-based reservation, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today took a veiled dig at him, saying it took him 50 years to understand what Sena founder Bal Thackeray had espoused. “For some people who have completed 50 years of their parliamentary careers, it has taken some 50 years to understand the Sena and the late Sena chief,” Thakeray said here. He was responding when asked by reporters to comment on Pawar’s remarks yesterday backing reservation based on economic criteria instead of caste.
Pawar had said, “This (reservation) is a sensitive issue. Dalits and Adivasis should be given reservation, there is no problem with it.. People of other castes are holding rallies for reservation. I clearly believe that reservation should not be given based on caste, but to people who are financially backward.” Pawar had made the comments during one-of-its-kind interview to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray in Pune.
Thackeray said, “I have not seen the interview. But Bala sahab had said the same 50 years back. It took 50 years for some people to understand. …It has once again proved that what the Sena chief had been advocating for 50 years in his public life was not wrong after all.” Taking an apparent swipe at his estranged cousin and MNS chief, Uddhav Thackery said, “some are yet to understand.”
In an apparent reference to OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal quitting the Sena in 1991 to join the Congress under Pawar’s leadership, Thackeray said, “It was Pawar who had raked up the ghost of the Mandal commission and split the Sena. “Had the views of late Sena chief been accepted at that time, the artificial walls of caste divide would not have come up.” The Shiv Sena chief was speaking to reporters after releasing a book penned by senior party MLC Neelam Gorhe.
Replying to a query on Pawar hailing the Sena founder on the latter’s stand vis-a-vis caste-based reservation during the interview, Thackeray said his father was ridiculed when he had proposed quota on the basis of economic criteria. Referring to the then Maharashtra government’s attempt to arrest Bal Thackeray in 2000 for his inflammatory editorials in party mouthpiece “Saamna” during the January 1993 riots, Thackeray said, “Where was your (Pawar’s) compassion when the government tried to arrest Sena chief in 2000 for an editorial written over the Mumbai riots in 1993. “He (Bal Thackeray) was 70-year-old then but no one tried to stop it (the arrest) from happening. At that time, your (Pawar’s) compassion was nowhere to be seen.”