Underlining his commitment to the shared ideology of Hindutva with the BJP, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray Sunday said he would never abandon it and that he would “always be friends” with his predecessor Devendra Fadnavis.
“I have learnt a lot of things from Devendra Fadvanis and I will always be friends with him. I am still with the ideology of ‘Hindutva’ and won’t ever leave it. In the past five years, I have never betrayed the government,” news agency ANI quoted the chief minister as saying.
Thackeray was speaking at the floor of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly after Fadnavis was elected the Leader of the Opposition and Congress MLA Nana Patole was elected Speaker.
“I won’t call you an ‘Opposition leader’, but I will call you a ‘responsible leader’. If you would have been good to us then, all this (BJP-Shiv Sena split) would have not happened,” he told the former CM.
Taking a swipe at Fadnavis over his impassioned pre-poll cry, “Me punha yein (I will return)”, which evoked several social media memes, Thackeray said: “I never said I will come back, but I came in this House.”
“I can assure this House and people of Maharashtra that I will not do anything at midnight. I will be working for the interests of the people,” he said.
Praising Sena’s new allies, Thackeray said he is a “lucky chief minister” as those who earlier opposed him are now supporting him. “I am a lucky CM because those who opposed me are now with me and those who I was with are now on the opposite side. I am here with my luck and blessings of people. I have never told anyone that I will be coming here but I came,” he said.
Thackeray has never contested elections and is the first in the family to be elected chief minister of the state.
Fadnavis assures return, says ‘need to wait for some time’
Responding to the barbs over his “Me punha yein” remarks, Fadnavis said he did say it but forgot to announce a time table of his return as chief minister.
“…But I can assure you one thing, you need to wait for some time.
“Mera paani utarte dekh kinare par ghar mat bana lena, mein samundar hoon, laut kar vapis aaoonga ((Thinking the tide has ebbed, don’t you dare build your house on the coast, for I am the sea, and I will come back),” he said, quoting a famous couplet.
“I not only announced several projects in the last five years, but started work on them as well. You never know, I may come back to inaugurate them,” he said.
NCP leader Jayant Patil also took a swipe at Fadnavis. “He (Fadnavis) said he would return, but didn’t say where he will sit (in the House),” Patil said.
“Now he has returned and is occupying this top post (of Leader of Opposition) which is of the same level as CM post,” he added.
Relations between the BJP and its oldest ally soured over disagreements on the CM post following the results of Assembly elections on October 24. The Sena subsequently pulled out of the NDA after the BJP refused to share the top post.
Joining hands with the NCP and the Congress, the Sena formed government in the state with Uddhav Thackeray at the helm. On Saturday, the three-party-coalition named ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ won the floor test after getting 169 votes in their favour in the 288-member House.
The unlikely alliance invited criticism from the BJP, including Fadnavis who predicted the new government will fall under the weight of its own contradictions in ideologies.