Sending a strong signal to the BJP as ties between the two allies worsen, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray Tuesday said that Hardik Patel, leader of the Patidar quota agitation in Gujarat and a vocal critic of the Prime Minister, will be the Sena’s leading face when it contests elections to the Gujarat Assembly.
Patel, on his part, refrained from campaigning for the Sena but he did say that he was with the party since they shared the same principles.
Responding to the development, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said: “Look who one has invited after the ground has slipped from beneath their (Sena) feet.” He told reporters his government will complete its term and there is “no danger” to it.
“Modiji door ki baat hain. Pehle Devendra Fadnavis se to nipto (Modi is a far cry. Let them first deal with Devendra Fadnavis),” he said.
Earlier, Uddhav Thackeray, speaking to reporters after meeting Patel, said: “After a long time, we will be contesting elections outside Maharashtra. If the people of Gujarat want, we will contest elections in Gujarat as well. And Hardik Patel will be one of our leading faces in this fight.”
He said the Sena had to reconsider its relationship with BJP after the two parties decided to go separate ways in elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.
“We were with them during the Lok Sabha elections and they called off the alliance. Now we have decided to call off the alliance… if your heart is not into a relationship, then there is no point in continuing,” Thackeray said.
Patel said he had come to meet Uddhav Thackeray because of the respect he had for Balasaheb Thackeray. “I want to stand with people who stand true to their principles. I associate myself with people on the basis of their conviction, not for political issues,” he said.
He claimed he was “too young to support” anyone. “I am only 23 years old. Moreover, they do not need my support… they themselves are supporting people.” He said he was firmly opposed to the BJP.
“We are fighting against the BJP because the party has killed 16 of our people. We are fighting against those who are trying to finish us,” he said. “We are fighting for a political change where a system is created to benefit people. We will stand with like-minded people wherever they need us,” he said.