Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made it clear that he will not utter a word against former partner Shiv Sena during his poll campaign out of respect for Bal Thackeray, but hit back at NCP saying its leader Sharad Pawar, who often invokes Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji during public addresses, does not possess “even a single skill of the great ruler”.
The NCP and Congress, in the runup to the October 15 Assembly poll, have been targeting BJP for no ‘credible’ Maratha face in the party. Modi has also dubbed the two parties as ‘bhrashtarcharvadi’ or corrupt.
Addressing a well attended rally at Sangli’s Tasgaon in Maratha-dominated west Maharashtra Sunday, Modi remembered Shivaji and late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in a bid to win over the locals.
“I won’t say a single word against Shiv Sena during the campaign,” Modi told the rally. “This is the first state election being fought after the demise of Balasaheb (Bal Thackeray). As a mark of my respect and faith in this great leader, I won’t say a word against the Shiv Sena. There are some relations that go beyond politics,” he said. He, however, made no referen-ce to Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray in his speech.
The BJP is wary that a split in Maratha votes after breaking ties with Sena would hurt the most in west Maharashtra and Marathwada regions.
Accusing NCP of ‘abusing’ Shivaji’s name, the PM turned the heat on Pawar. “You take Shivaji’s name, but do not possess even a single skill the great ruler possessed,” he said. “Chhatrapati Shivaji was known for his water management. Had you imbibed this while serving the state as the CM or the Union agriculture minister, the state would not have seen this many farmer suicides,” he said.
Aligning BJP closer to the Maratha king, Modi noted, “It was the (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee government that renamed the Mumbai airport and Victoria Terminus after Shivaji. You were Maharashtra’s CM, but never thought of it.”
Modi reminded voters that he had come to the Raigad fort for seeking blessings of Shivaji before accepting the responsibility as BJP’s PM candidate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. “I prayed to him to bless me with the same energy, charisma and commitment with which he served people.” Remembering local Hindutva activist and founder of Shiv Pratisthan Sambhaji Bhide (Guruji), he said it was he who had inspired him to visit Raigad. Bhide has sizeable influence in Sangli-Satara-Kolhapur.
He said the Shivaji statue built by him in Surat was grander than any statue of the warrior king in Pawar’s Baramati. The PM also asserted that he considers Maharashtra as the elder brother of Gujarat.
With sugar cooperatives dominating the region’s politics, Modi criticised Pawar for playing with lives of farmers for political gains. “Why are sugar cooperative closing down. In Gujarat, dairy cooperative are blossoming since it is the farmers that run them.”
The PM also tried to corner Congress and NCP over corruption. Speaking at a separate rally at jampacked Tapovan ground in Kolhapur, the PM said, “They are bhrashtarcharvadi… They don’t want Gandhi, they want only notes with Gandhi on them.”On the second day of the tour, he said, “Congress and NCP have looted the state. There is no development in the state for the past 15 years and the same was the condition of the country.”
BJP back-stabbed Balasaheb: Aditya
The Shiv Sena accused former ally BJP of backstabbing late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray by snapping ties with his party over seat sharing in Maharashtra Assembly polls. “The BJP grew in Maharashtra by holding the hand of Shiv Sena. However, as soon as the party came to power at the Centre, it snapped ties with the Sena.
By doing this, the BJP has back-stabbed late Balasaheb Thackeray,” Shiv Sena’s youth wing president Aditya Thackeray said here Saturday night. Balasaheb always considered Sena’s alliance partner BJP as a family, Aditya Thackeray said adding, “Nonetheless, the BJP parted ways with us over seat sharing.”
He was speaking at a poll rally held here for Shiv Sena candidates Ajay Boraste (Nashik-Central) and Chandrakant Lavate (Nashik-East). Accusing the Congress and NCP of indulging in corruption and holding them responsible for the problems like load shedding in the state, Aditya asked people to defeat these parties. PTI