In his first such attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Monday accused him of a “hidden agenda” to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra, adding that he would “join hands with” the Shiv Sena “if such a situation arises”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, “Can you imagine a Prime Minister holding 23 rallies for the Maharashtra assembly polls? Why is he so focussed on Maharashtra? …There is a larger design behind this campaign. It is not confined to just displaying the political might of BJP or Modi. It is aimed at wielding control of the financial capital of India.”
Warning against any such move, he said, “Nobody should dare to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra, or else 10 crore Marathi people — of the total 11.40 crore population in the state — will not hesitate to take to the streets.”
He said, “If such a situation arises, I will join hands with the Shiv Sena and all those who are committed to the cause of the Marathi Manoos in Maharashtra to save Mumbai.”
Asked why he did not reconcile his differences with the Shiv Sena after it split from the BJP, Thackeray said, “I am firm on ekla chalo re… as my politics is not for money or power alone.”
However, he added, “After the split, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray called me and asked me about my health. I said yes, I have fever… The question is if the Sena-BJP alliance was intact, would the MNS matter… But when it comes to fighting for Mumbai, I am ready to shake hands with all for the greater cause of the Marathi Manoos.”
Alleging that Modi cannot look beyond Gujarat, he said, “It is a systematic move to undermine socially and economically empowered Maharashtra. How else does one explain their move to shift the Reserve Bank of India (divisions) from Mumbai to Delhi? Or a bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad? …If the issue was related to administrative inconvenience, it should have come up when the RBI operations started. Now, in this age of technology, physical distances hardly matter.”
While emphasising that he has “nothing against Modi”, Thackeray also criticised him for interfering in the state’s affairs. “If we look at the developments and the BJP campaign closely, we can get a glimpse of their hidden agenda. It will surface gradually. And that is what has got me worried,” he said.
Alleging that Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel also comes to Mumbai and asks industries to shift to Gujarat, Thackeray said, “I admit that people of Gujarat are enterprising, but you must consider the fact that Maharashtra has always remained a leading state because of the sons of the soil… The PM should realise this and give the state and its people its due.” He said the attempt should be to create a Mumbai in every state.
Asked if the BJP was targeting regional parties, he said, “Yes, that is high on their agenda. Look at the manner in which they split with the Shiv Sena… I wonder how a long pending case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithha surfaced leading to her arrest.”