Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Tuesday addressed his party Shiv Sena's Dussehra rally at Azad Maidan in Mumbai and slammed the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) over various issues.
This rally was significant for CM Shinde and his party as it was the last Dussehra rally before he faces the ultimate test of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections next year, which will be a litmus test for the credibility of CM Shinde after he engineered a split in Shiv Sena in 2022.
Will give Maratha reservation: CM Shinde tales oath in front of Shivaji Maharaj
"I belong to the Maratha community, I have worked hard for the community throughout my life. Taking the oath of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, I assure the Maratha community that reservations will be granted," CM EKnath Shinde said.
"The state government is committed to providing reservations for the Maratha community. I request the youth to not take any extreme steps. What Eknath Shinde says, he does," the CM said.
CM Shinde promised that while giving the reservation to Maratha community, no other communities' quota would be snatched.
CM Shinde, in an emotional bid, bowed down before Shivaji Maharaj and took oath that he would give Maratha community their quota.
Your bank was not Dena bank but Lena bank: CM Shinde's attack against Thackeray
In an attack against his former boss Uddhav Thackeray, CM Shinde said, "How many cases do you have against you? How many lathis have you endured? Your bank was not a Dena (giving) bank, but a (Lena) taking bank. Those who claim to be Balasaheb's successors, let them take a look at their own conduct. If Eknath Shinde has become the Chief Minister, has anything changed? I am working as a worker yesterday, today, and tomorrow. With determination, I sit here in the government to serve. I have no greed for any position as long as the entire public is with me. I travel to Davos and descend into Mumbai's drains, even inspecting public toilets in slums."
"Since 2004, Uddhav Thackeray had aspired to become the Chief Minister. To attain the position of Chief Minister, they had sent two people to Pawar. The Shiv Sena will be merging with the Congress tomorrow, and it should not come as a surprise," Eknath Shinde said.
In a scathing attack against the Thackeray scion, CM Shinde said, "Balasaheb's thoughts are our guiding principle. You have shown immense disloyalty to Balasaheb's principles. You have betrayed the cause of Hindutva. How much treachery have you committed for the sake of money? You have submerged Balasaheb's ideals. You have aligned with Congress and the socialists. Tomorrow, you will form an alliance with AIMIM and Owaisi. They might form an alliance with Hamas, Hizbul, Lashkar-e-taiba. They don't care about common Shiv Sainik. They just care about their family."
The significance of Dussehra rally
The Dussehra rally has remained a cornerstone in the Shiv Sena's calendar since its inception in 1966. Traditionally, the Shivaji Park ground, referred to as Shivtirth by the party, has been the steadfast venue for this event over the years with the party founder Bal Thacekray addressing his Sainiks about his views and party's strategy.
After Bal Thackeray's demise, his son and predecessor Uddhav Thackeray continued the tradition.
However, exceptions occurred in 2020, when a virtual rally was organised due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and in 2021, when it took place at Shanmukhanand Hall in Kings Circle.
Following the split in the Uddhav-led Shiv Sena in June 2022, orchestrated by Shinde, both party factions conducted separate Dussehra rallies last year as well as this year.
This year, while the Uddhav faction held its rally at the Shivaji Park, the Shinde faction conducted its rally at Azad Maidan in South Mumbai.
The Dussehra rallies this year carry a distinct importance for both factions as they mark the final such gatherings before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for next year. Uddhav and CM Shinde, the key speakers at these rallies, are expected to kickstart the Lok Sabha election campaigns and provide guidance to the party members regarding their joint rallies. Sena (UBT) will be hosting joint rallies with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP and the Congress, while Shinde Sena is likely to collaborate with the NCP faction under Ajit Pawar and the BJP.