Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a blistering attack on the BJP and the central government on Sunday, accusing them of having no ideology, norms, or culture.
Thackeray demanded that the government either fix the problems of the GST regime or revert to the earlier system. He also accused the BJP of playing politics over the Covid-19 pandemic; and said the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva was about nationalism, not “clanging bells and utensils”.
Thackeray compared the exit of the BJP’s old ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, from the NDA, and its veteran Maharashtra leader Eknath Khadse from the party, to a dahi handi pyramid that was hollowing at the bottom, and was on its way to inevitable collapse.
“When your foundation stones weaken, you have no ideology, norms of conduct, culture, nothing. Such a government is not going to last long. I again challenge you (the BJP) to topple our government (in Maharashtra) but first protect your government (in Delhi). Because one day, people will look beyond you and say, ‘give us anyone else, but not you’. This thought has already started,” the Chief Minister said.
Thackeray was speaking at the Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally from the Savarkar Memorial auditorium near Shivaji Park in Dadar. The strict Covid-19 protocol meant only a select group of 50 Ministers, leaders, MPs, and MLAs were present in person at Thackeray’s first Dussehra rally after he became Chief Minister last year – the masses of Shiv Sainiks watched the rally virtually on the party’s social media platforms.
The Centre owed Maharashtra Rs 38,000 cr in GST dues, and other states were complaining as well, Thackeray said. “I feel that the GST system has failed, and I appeal to all Chief Ministers of the country to come forward to discuss this. I feel that the Prime Minister should accept the lacunae in the GST system honestly, and that it should be amended accordingly. Otherwise, we should revert to the old tax regime that will benefit the states. The country is not the property of one political party,” he said.
“Whatever is happening in the country is very strange,” Thackeray said. “The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted economies across the world. At such a time, if the BJP is more interested in toppling governments instead of paying attention to the country’s economy, then I think we are inviting anarchy.
“The kind of attention you (BJP) are giving to your party, give some attention to the country as the situation has deteriorated,” he said.
On the BJP’s election promise of providing free Covid-19 vaccine in Bihar, Thackeray asked: “Is the rest of the country Pakistan or Bangladesh or Kazakhstan? Those who are speaking like this and playing divisive politics should be ashamed of themselves.”
Without naming Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Thackeray said those who were questioning the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva were “hiding in their holes” when the Babri Masjid was demolished. “People who were not known beyond their family, are asking us questions on Hindutva. Your Hindutva is about clanging bells and utensils; our Hindutva is not like that. Our Hindutva is nationalism,” he said.
Koshyari recently wrote to Thackeray demanding that places of worship be opened up in Maharashtra, and mockingly asking the Chief Minister whether he had turned “secular”. Maharashtra has the country’s biggest Covid-19 caseload and has seen the most deaths from the disease.
In a veiled attack on actor Kangana Ranaut for likening Mumbai to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), the CM said, “Those who come to Mumbai for bread and butter are abusing Mumbai by comparing it with PoK”, and described such people as “namakharam (ungrateful)”.
To compare Mumbai with PoK was an insult of Modi who has been PM for six years, and had promised to bringing back PoK, Thackeray said. “You are not able to put your foot in PoK. But if a PoK is being created in a country that is ruled by Modi, then it is the failure of the PM and not of the state,” he said.
On the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the CM said: “Had there been any foul play in his death, Mumbai and Maharashtra Police would have surely investigated it.” Referring to the “mudslinging” against the government, the Thackeray family, and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, he said: “You cannot do anything against us as we are clean… You used offensive language against us, but nothing happened because we are clean. Now you have to swallow it all back.”
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