Mumbai: Undeterred by the BJP’s repeated attacks and 'fresh deadlines' for the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray claimed his government was strong and stable. In a freewheeling interview on the eve of his completion of one year in office, Thackeray spoke on a range of issues, saying that the Shiv Sena had formed the government with new allies NCP and Congress for the speedy development and welfare of people.
Q: It seems the BJP is yet to adjust to reality, as your predecessor Devendra Fadnavis says his party will provide an effective alternative. What is your reaction?
A: There is no question of the Shiv Sena realigning with the BJP. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government is strong and stable. Thanks to the active cooperation and coordination of allies NCP and Congress, other allies, legislators of the three parties and more importantly, the administrative machinery. I really want to thank all of them for the completion of one year of the government.
Q: But are you confident that the NCP will not ditch you?
A: The NCP will not take any other stand. The party is a trusted ally. NCP leaders are strongly with the other partners, including the Shiv Sena and the Congress.
Q: The BJP and other critics claim that the government is working on the advice of NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. What is your take?
A: Even though I have no experience in running a government, I am doing it. The government has completed one year. Whenever Sharad Pawar visits, he shares his experiences in governance and various administrative decisions. I have seen his interactions with my father and Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray. It is a new experience. He never directs you or says, you should do this, or explore this option.
Q: What is your experience with your new ally, the Congress?
A: We have established a good rapport. Party ministers and legislators are very cooperative. Special thanks to Congress president Sonia Gandhi for her go-ahead.
Q: But the BJP continues to say that the MVA government will fall due to internal contradictions among the three partners. What is your take?
A: There is nothing wrong in dreaming and having expectations. We have proper coordination and understanding. The MVA government will complete its term and the three partners will together contest the ensuing civic and local body elections, including the BMC elections.
Q: However, the BJP has spared no chance to attack you and your family and also the MVA government, on each and every issue. How do you react?
A: Now you will realise why I decided to break the 25-year-old alliance with the BJP, how much of a painful association it was. The former ally had sin in its mind. When we were allied, we were good and friendly but on parting ways, we are being targeted. This clearly shows BJP’s perverse attitude. The party has stooped to a new low by criticising me and my family. It is their 'vikruti' while it is my 'sanskriti' not to direct scathing criticism against an individual or family. I have criticised policies and programmes, which I will continue to do.
The BJP has not spared my family members, including my wife and Aaditya. They have levelled allegations and run a vilification campaign in the Sushant Singh Rajput case. This is not done. Those who have families and children should look into the mirror once. Do not compel us to take that step. If I start running behind you, then I do not want to be a pervert.
Attacking a family is not our culture. This is also Hindutva culture. If you are targeting our families and children, then they should also remember that they too have families and children. They are not like clean rice. If we decide, we know how to cook their ‘khichdi’. Like me, you have a family. You (BJP) are not clean.
Q: The opposition claims that the Shiv Sena has abandoned Hindutva to stick to power. What is your comment?
A: Hindutva is in our veins. Don't teach us Hindutva. Chhatrapati Shivaji brought in the first saffron administration in the country. Is Hindutva only about rituals and ringing bells? That doesn't treat coronavirus, it has been proven now. No one should do politics in the guise of Hindutva and teach us what Hindutva is.
Q: The governor is sitting on the cabinet recommendations for the nomination of 12 members in the state council. Do you see politics in it?
A: The state cabinet has unanimously recommended 12 names for nomination through the Governor’s quota in the Upper House. I hope the governor will give his approval soon.
Q: How do you view the manner in which Central agencies are being roped in to probe opposition leaders?
A: Central agencies are being misused against opposition-ruled states. I hail Mamata Bannerjee's fight against the same. Let them do that and we also have enough ammunition.
Q: Despite repeated reminders, the Centre has not released GST dues nor extended funds for calamity-hit regions. Do you expect tension between Centre and the State to go further? Is the BJP-led Government meting out step-motherly treatment?
A: It is true that the state government has yet to receive GST dues of Rs 38,000 crore. The Union Government has not yet sent a Central team to assess the damage caused by the untimely rains and floods despite several reminders. Therefore, at the Dussehra rally, I made a case for states facing similar issues with the Centre needing to join hands and jointly take it up.
Q: Are you pitching for a national role?
A: I am currently the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. I do speak to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.
Q: The government has backtracked on providing relief to electricity consumers in inflated bills received during the lockdown. What is your view?
A: Let me first tell you, these are not inflated bills. Due to the lockdown, the meter readings were not possible and therefore, power distribution companies sent average bills to the consumers. These bills may have been on the higher side. The government is working on providing relief to the consumers. Please wait for the same.