Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is a man with a mission and extremely busy these days. Daily rallies and meetings have taken their toll on his health, but Thackeray wants to go on despite the doctor’s advice. Speaking to Vivek Bhavsar of Free Press Journal on Thursday, he looked relaxed at his residence. A persona that exuded confidence and bore no stress as he spoke of Sena’s fight against its former ally, Bharatiya Janata Party and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. He began the interview on a high note stating he felt good and was at ease after his decision to break the 20-year alliance with the BJP.
Why have you broken the alliance with the BJP?
n Thackeray: Look, we are disappointed with this BJP government. There came a point when we were forced to decide whether to go with them or not. We are accountable to the people of Maharashtra. Earlier, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Lalkrishna Advani were the faces of BJP. Now they have goons as their leaders like, Kalani has shared space with Modi and Shah on their posters. I feel time will come we will hear that Dawood (Ibrahim) has died due to old age because if he has to come back to India, he will have to join the BJP. I will be not surprised if Dawood will be seen on the stage with BJP leaders. It is time to think about which party we should go with and that is why we broke the alliance.
Will you pull out support to the BJP government?
n Thackeray: See, when an elephant becomes uncontrollable, it needs a good mahout to control it. The BJP is just like the uncontrollable elephant right now and we (Sena) are the mahout.
Q: Does this mean you will continue to finish the full term of this government along with this elephant (BJP)?
n Thackeray: We will try to control it.
You had said you are on a notice period. How long will this notice period be?
n Thackeray: Look, we have submitted a letter to Fadnavis and demanded waiver of farmers’ loans. I have been demanding this since past few months. BJP has given poll promise in Uttar Pradesh to waive off loans and exemption in interest rate. If BJP can give it to the farmers of UP, why not to the farmers of Maharashtra? Let us see, what he will reply. We will wait, otherwise we can think about the notice period.
How do you feel after the break up with BJP?
n Thackeray: I stand vindicated today. Had I not severed ties with the BJP, my photo too would have been up there (on the posters) along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, (BJP president Amit Shah) Shah and Pappu Kalani (former Legislator of Ulhasnagar and accused in Ghanshyam Bhatija case in 1990, wherein he was arrested). I am relieved that I did not have to join the likes of Kalani who is currently in jail.
The BJP campaign strategy for the BMC polls is transparency which you are opposing. Why are you against it?
n Thackeray: I am definitely not against transparency. In fact, the Economic Survey published by Central government has stated that Mumbai is at number one position on per capita income, transparency and accountability. (Showing the chart published by the union finance department). This report is not published by us or the BMC. It is the BJP’s Central government report. Pune is there in the list. But, Nagpur, the city of the chief minister is not even mentioned in the report. What does it mean? What inference should one draw from it?
I am surprised and angered by Fadnavis when he compared Mumbai with Patna. Mumbai is far progressive than any city, but that does not make Patna a backward city. Patna is also mentioned in the list of report. He (Fadnavis) has insulted both Mumbai and Patna. Mumbai has highest share of tax collection and we pay it to the union government. This year Central government has bagged more than Rs 2 lakh crore through various taxes from the pockets of our citizens. And what do we get in return? Nothing. I demand that Mumbai should get 25 percent share out of our tax collection. This will help Mumbai to spend on development works.
You still have very good relations with Fadnavis.
n Thackeray: Yes. We are very good friends. I have good relations with Fadnavis.
You have decided to field candidates in other states. What is the ideology behind this move?
n Thackeray: After the demolition of Babri Masjid in 1992, our party, the Shiv Sena spread across the country. Just to avoid division of Hindu votes, we never tried to contest elections in other states. Now we have decided to contest elections in various states like Goa and Uttar Pradesh, where we are fielding our candidates. It does not mean that we are being very ambitious. Otherwise we would have asked more seats in Goa from Maharashtra Gomantakwadi Party instead of four. Let me tell you, the nomination of one candidate was rejected.
Do you mean you will lead a third front?
n Thackeray: In every state, the local regional party has its own agenda and issues of self-importance. We will try to bring them together. This also does not mean that I will be leading it. This is just an idea. Why should we think about leadership when there is nothing in the pipeline at this moment? Mumbai’s elections are my first priority.
Do you think demonetisation will become a poll issue?
n Thackeray: I have no objections to what the Prime Minister Narendra Modi said about controlling black money hoarding. But, demonetisation was not the promise given during Lok Sabha elections. Who has suffered? Only the common man and poor people are badly affected by this policy. We have not seen any rich man standing in any queue or even dying waiting to collect his hard earned money. Even, Modi could not have recovered the dues from industrialists and business houses. In fact he has helped banks to recovered the dues of various business houses by digging into the pockets of salaried people.
If Sena does not get a clear majority and you require support of few seats, would you take the support from BJP?
n Thackeray: Shiv Sena will win with full majority and we will not need support of any party.