Uddhav rallies anti-BJP forces, joins meeting called by Sonia and Mamata to oppose Centre's decision to go ahead with JEE, NEET exams

Under attack from the BJP over the handling of the Covid-19 crisis and the death case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Chief Minister and Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday dropped sufficient hints about being prepared to take on his party's former ally, by joining hands with anti-BJP forces.Thackeray surprised many by participating in the meeting convened by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee against the Centre's resolve to conduct the JEE-NEET exams during the coronavirus pandemic. Thackeray yet again signalled he was in it for the long haul with his new allies, not just in the state but also in national politics. Responding to Mamata's praise for his resolve to fight, Uddhav Thackeray said, "I am the fighter son of a fighter father.''

"We have to decide whether we want to fear or fight the government. The people who elected the BJP at the Centre also elected all of us. But if we do something, it is 'paap' (sin) and if they do anything, it is 'punya' (virtuous)?" ''When a crisis strikes, we come together. But why do we need a crisis to come together? We should stay together,'' he noted.

He strongly objected to the centralisation of power with one person (without referring to Prime Minister Modi) and said it should be opposed together.He further reminded that the Constitution of India has been crafted by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar based on federalism. ''Everyone has a right and if it is not being respected, then there is a question mark over the democratic set-up of our country,''he opined.Taking an aggressive stand, Thackeray, in his submission, said, ''Development does not mean we do whatever we want.'' He further said the state government would resume education but not schools. "Aaditya has already sent a letter to the PM, requesting that the government should consider starting the academic year from January, instead of June-July.'' Further, the CM stressed it would be quite dangerous to start schools in a hurry.

''We have formed the government for development and not to impose lockdown. But there are some things that need to be considered carefully,'' he said.Thackeray referred to the report from the US where about 97,000 students were infected by Covid-19 when schools were opened. ''What will we do if such a situation arises here?''he asked.

''Some people feel the government is going slow on unlocking but I strongly believe there is no use in taking hasty decisions. If we tread cautiously, we may not have to impose strict curbs again,'' he noted.On the delays in GST compensation from the Centre, Thackeray said the issue triggered a debate on whether the pre- or post-GST era was good. ''If something goes wrong after the launch of the GST regime, it needs to be corrected or calls for considering the restoration of the old system,'' he opined.

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