Gujarat Chief Minister Anandi Patel’s recent speech in Mumbai inviting investors to Gujarat has provided fodder for the poll campaign of the MNS and the Shiv Sena, which have seized the opportunity to tell people in the state that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was intent on robbing Mumbai of its status as the country’s financial capital.
After The Indian Express reported Patel’s September 27 address industrialists and investors in Mumbai in which she talked of city’s notorious traffic while wooing investors to Gujarat, the Shiv Sena was first to respond with a scathing editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana a few days ago.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray too raised the matter at his rally in Bhandup on Sunday, where he regretted endorsing Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister and attacked him saying he continued to “think” and endorse Gujarat everywhere he went.
“While Modi comes and talks about the development of Maharashtra, Anandi Patel, who was picked by him as his successor, comes to Mumbai and tells investors to come to Gujarat and invest there. What is your hidden agenda? Why should Anandi Patel come to Mumbai and invite investors to Gujarat, that too when elections are round the corner,” the MNS chief said.
“I was the first person in the country to say that Modi should become the PM. However, now I am really surprised on whatever is doing. I thought he will change after becoming the PM, but Gujarat still seems to be his priority and nothing apart from that seems to be important,” Thackeray said.
Citing an example from the 17th century Maratha history to take potshots at the Gujarat CM, Thackeray said in Marathi, “Ek Anandibai peshwan chya kalat hotya and hya ata Gujaratchya Anandibai. Aaplya Anandibai ne ‘Dha cha maa’ kela hota, ani hya Gujarat chya Anandibai Ma cha Gu karaayla baghatayat. Mhanje Maharashtra cha Gujarat karaycha aahe tyanna (There was one Anandibai in the times of Peshwas and now there is this Anandibai of Gujarat. While our Anandibai misled people by changing ‘Dha to Maa’, this Anandibai from Gujarat is trying to change ‘Ma to Gu’, meaning she wants to convert Maharashtra into Gujarat).”
Anandibai of the Peshwa dynasty is infamous for having changed the language in a letter which many say was a plot to kill her nephew as she conspired to make her husband the ruler.
Taking a dig at Modi, Thackeray said the perception of a “Gujarati” PM had not gone unnoticed even by the Obama administration. “Recently, Modi went to America. Obama greeted him in Gujarati by saying ‘Kem Cho’ (How are doing?). Obama’s officials were very well aware that Modi would be impressed if greeted in Gujarati. But why Gujarati, why not in Hindi? Is Gujarati our national language? Our PM should be recognised worldwide as the PM of India and not as the PM of Gujarat. We will not tolerate him as the PM of Gujarat.”
The Modi government’s bias towards Gujarat, Thackeray said, came across in every government announcement, including in the country’s financial budget. “After returning from Japan, Modi announced the Mumbai-Ahemdabad bullet train project. Why not Mumbai-Delhi or Mumbai-Kolkata. What will Mumbaikars go to Ahemdabad at a bullet speed and do? Eat Dhoklas?” he said.
The MNS chief alleged that BJP was asking for a majority so that they could eventually direct all that is coming to Maharashtra to Gujarat. “There was 250 acres of land in Mumbai earmarked for a coast guard project. As soon as Modi became the PM, the land allocation was cancelled and the project was shifted to Porbandar in Gujarat,” he alleged.
Thackeray also attacked local BJP leaders for the “Gujaratiness” in a Marathi state. “I saw BJP candidate Prakash Mehta’s campaign truck. There were messages written all over it in Gujarati. I have never seen such a thing ever in Maharashtra before. Everyone used to write in Marathi. Then, how has this started now and why?” he thundered.