Shiv Sena crossed yet another milestone on Friday in its political journey -- as an erstwhile NDA partner to its current status as a UPA ally.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who along with the NCP and the Congress formed the government last year by breaking its 25-year-old alliance with the BJP, on Friday participated in a video conference of opposition leaders and reiterated his party's secular credentials.
Although Thackeray has clarified that he has neither left Hindutva, nor forsaken its colour, he has also indicated that he is ready for a long haul and is prepared to take on the BJP with his new found allies.
This the first occasion Thackeray was seen in a virtual meeting with the galaxy of opposition leaders, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad and DMK leader MK Stalin.
Shiv Sena had earlier dropped its objection to the word secular, which was unanimously included in the common minimum programme of the MVA partners.
Thackeray, at the outset, slammed the BJP for playing 'dirty politics' during the coronavirus pandemic and said it was only interested in scoring brownie points.
Thackeray insisted that the war against the virus should be fought in tandem but the BJP has its own designs to destabilise the government in Maharashtra. Thackeray also clarified that it was his effort to take parties of all hues on board while grappling with the COVID 19 crisis.
However, the BJP, which is yet to reconcile to loss of power in Maharashtra, has been cornering the government on every single issue.
Thackeray explained the measures taken thus far by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to curb the spread of coronavirus and reiterated the government’s resolve to make the entire state a green zone ahead of monsoon.
Thackeray’s presence at the Opposition’s meeting coincided with the BJP’s Maharashtra Bachao Aandolan organised on Friday to protest against the state government’s failure to curb the pandemic.
Veteran NCP leader Praful Patel, who was also present at the meeting, said Thackeray voiced his displeasure over the BJP politicising the coronavirus crisis. ‘’The CM was all for fighting the virus as one unified mass.
The participants at the meeting were also unanimous that the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package announced by the Modi government was not enough. Also, even though the government has announced relaxation in the lockdown, it lacks an exit strategy,’’ he told the FPJ.