Looking to strike an emotional chord with voters, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray Sunday invoked the legacy of his father the late Bal Thackeray. At his last big rally before the Assembly polls, Uddhav and his son Aditya prostrated before ‘Shiv Sainiks’, urging them to vote the party to power.
When the Sena had courted electoral challenge after former CM Narayan Rane parted ways with the party in 2005, Bal Thackeray had used the same emotional plank to his advantage during his rallies in Thane and Konkan.
Addressing a well-attended rally in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex, Uddhav said, “We will prostrate before you again after winning the polls. But we are bowing down to you now for standing firmly behind us in times of strife”. He added: “In his last public address, Thackeray had asked Shiv Sainiks to stand behind me and Aditya. I prostrate before you to abide by this.”
“I’m just the party’s face. Bal Thackeray is the force behind my actions,” he said., drawing applause.
With almost all opinion polls suggesting that the main contest would be between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Sena, Uddhav targeted the party’s former ally the most. “The alliance would have persisted had I accepted the conditions imposed by them. But Shiv Sena would have been wiped out,” he said, asking , “Would you have approved of it? Wasn’t what I did right?”
Expressing confidence that the next CM would be a Shiv Sainik, Uddhav declared plans to complete 50 marquee development projects before 2016, when the saffron party celebrates its golden jubilee.
Invoking Marathi pride, Uddhav said the Sena government, if elected to power, would take steps to bring Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka’s Belgaum under Maharashtra’s limits.
In a veiled dig at PM Narendra Modi, he said: “Big people are campaigning in every nook and corner of Maharashtra. Buses are being brought from Gujarat to show crowd presence.” He added that the saffron alliance would have continued if former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was holding the reins of BJP. “It was never a tug-of-war over seat-sharing and posts previously. There was a bond behind the saffron alliance,” he said.
Stating that the Sena always backed the BJP in its bad times, Uddhav said: “Ab acche din aane lagen, toh haath chod diyen (Now that good days have started coming, they deserted us).”