SHIV SENA president Uddhav Thackeray Monday took a cautious stand on the BJP’s decision to field a Dalit face as the Presidential nominee, stating that this was being done to pander to Dalit votes. The party also took a swipe at the BJP by stating that it should not be overconfident about state elections and that the Sena was ready to prove its mettle if a mid-term election was called.
“Why should the Sena be supportive if you plan to put up a Dalit candidate only for the sake of Dalit votes? Why should we be interested if you want a person who will work only for Dalits? If you put a person who works for the benefit of the entire nation, then the Sena is with you,” Thackeray said while addressing a gathering of party workers during the party’s 51st foundation day celebrations at Shanmukhananda Hall in central Mumbai.
Thackeray also took a swipe at the BJP over the party’s reticence to fully identify with the cause of Hindutva.“We have never hidden our politics. Our country is Hindu and there should be no fear in saying this. It was for this reason that we had proposed the name of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat as the president of India,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray also said the Sena would clear its stand on supporting the BJP nominee after a meeting with party leaders in Mumbai Wednesday. He said the Sena stood firmly behind the farmers’ demands for a loan waiver and it would not allow the BJP government to get away until a complete loan waiver was announced.
On the issue of the perceived decline of regional parties, Thackeray claimed that the Shiv Sena was the only party in Maharashtra that was speaking out against the “subjugation” of Marathi speaking residents of Belgaum in Karnataka by the local government. “Only the Sena can speak in support of this people. No national party will support these people as these parties want to win elections in every state,” Thackeray said.
He also targeted the BJP for its failure to bring in common bovine slaughter rules across the country. “They are bringing in rules based on regions. If we cant have common rules on an issue like animal slaughter across the country, how do you plan to bring in a common civil code,” Thackeray said.
He said he was not afraid of the threat of mid-term elections. “Our enemies talk about mid-term elections frequently. I do not fear mid-term elections. As of now, my only concern are farmers who are forced to commit suicide in the middle of their lives,” Thackeray said. He also took a dig at the BJP, saying it could not win each election.
“Don’t feel that you will win everything. The atmosphere is changing. Farmers are disappointed. Only arrogance will force you to call an election now,” Thackeray said. His angsty speech interestingly comes days after he met BJP president Amit Shah at his residence in Mumbai.
After the 90-minute meeting, both leaders had reiterated that the Sena-BJP partnership would work to complete its tenure of five years. However, in spite of the bonhomie that was on display Sunday, the Sena remains miffed about the cold shoulder that it has been receiving by the BJP leadership in Maharashtra as well as the Centre.