TAKING ON the Centre for the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Friday claimed that the Centre, in near future, could split other states, including Maharashtra, in a similar manner.
Addressing party workers at Prabhadevi in Mumbai, he also took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his claims that removal of Article 370 would create jobs in Kashmir. “What about states where there was no Article 370 and still the youth are unemployed? Why could you not generate employment in these states?” Thackeray asked.
He claimed that the government was using emotive issues to divert attention from its governance failures. “Today it is 370, tomorrow they will rake up the Ram Mandir issue and then the Uniform Civil Code. This is being done to divert your attention. In the end you will get nothing,” Thackeray told MNS workers.
Airing his opposition to the recently passed Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, Thackeray claimed that the new law will be used to crush dissent. President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to the legislation, under which individuals can be declared as terrorists and their properties seized, officials said on Friday.
While the government has claimed that the legislative measure will give more teeth to the National Investigation Agency, the MSN chief said: “The Act means that Amit Shah has the power to brand anyone a terrorist. Anyone who agitates against them will be labelled a terrorist and put behind bars.”
Thackeray also rued that there was no democracy left in the country. “The government does not feel answerable to the people. Even the courts and the EC (Election Commission) seem unresponsive. This is a worrying trend for democracy,” he said.
A one-time avid supporter of Narendra Modi, Thackeray has over the years had a fall out with the BJP since it came to power in 2014. In the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he had been increasingly critical of the BJP and had played a key role in getting the Opposition to come on one stage to protest against the use of electronic voting machines (EVM).
The parties had planned a march on August 21 against EVMs and to demand switching over to the paper ballot system. Thackeray, however, said on Friday that due to the flood situation in Maharashtra, the march could be delayed by a week. A new date will be decided soon, he added.