Even as corruption charges continue to fly thick and fast between the Maha Vikas Aghadi and the BJP, Shiv Sena chief and CM Uddhav Thackeray and Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis got into a verbal duel over the issue of Hindutva on Sunday. Thackeray, who heads the MVA government in the state, taunted that the BJP was not Hindutva and parting ways with the BJP did not mean that the Shiv Sena had parted ways with Hindutva.
Thackeray said the Shiv Sena had always been committed to ‘bhagva’ (saffron) and Hindutva, “unlike the BJP, which had different names like the Bharatiya Jan Sangh and the Jan Sangh. It was Balasaheb Thackeray who showed them (BJP) that saffron and Hindutva would put them on the road to Delhi,” he said.
The chief minister was delivering a virtual speech during the Kolhapur bypoll campaign for Congress nominee Jayashree Jadhav, who is now in the fray as the MVA candidate against BJP nominee Satyajit Kadam. Thackeray said Shiv Sena would support the Congress in the upcoming bypoll because his party honoured commitments and was not a ‘backstabber’.
However, Fadnavis dubbed his party’s estranged ally Shiv Sena as ‘pseudo-secular’. He pointed out that a worker from the Shiv Sena had printed a calendar in Urdu in which founder Bal Thackeray was addressed as ‘janab’. “The Shiv Sena has become pseudo-secular. However, we are not against any religion or its beliefs,” he hastened to clarify.
“Every party has brainless people who make some or the other statement. The BJP will attack from the front, not in this manner, if at all it has to. Since the media knew about the attack and not the police, some ruling parties are trying to divert attention by blaming the BJP,” Fadnavis said in his speech during the bypoll campaign for party nominee Satyajit Kadam.
Fadnavis also accused the MVA of ‘terrorising’ people in north Maharashtra and wondered if this area had become like West Bengal, a state that has, of late, seen many incidents of political violence, including several people being burnt to death in Birbhum last month.
Meanwhile, Thackeray took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and questioned whether he was PM or the sarpanch of a gram panchayat, as his photos are displayed in gram panchayats too. “Why are there no photos of Atalji (Vajpayee) and L K Advani on the BJP’s flag? Has anyone taken to the streets from the BJP for fighting the interests of the Marathi-speaking people in Belagavi?” he asked.
Thackeray also slammed the BJP, questioning its opposition to the naming of the Navi Mumbai international airport after Bal Thackeray.
Without naming the BJP, he criticised it for making false accusations against its opponents and creating illusions, as the party had nothing else to offer on its report card.
“Why did the BJP go back on its word and commitment given by (Union home minister) Amit Shah in Balasaheb’s room which I consider a temple,” Thackeray asked, in an apparent reference to his claim that the BJP had promised the CM’s post to Sena in the 2019 polls.
Eventually, the issue of sharing the chief minister’s post after the state elections in 2019 proved to be the breaking point for the Sena and the BJP. The Sena went on to join hands with the NCP and the Congress to form the MVA government.
The BJP and Shah had rejected Thackeray’s claims regarding the purported promise on the CM’s post.