As Maharashtra gears up for the Assembly polls the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance seems to go strong with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday saying despite his party being in Maharashtra government for last five years without much power, he never betrayed or conspired to pull it down.
In the second part of his interview to party mouthpiece Saamana, Thackeray also spoke about his party’s objection to tree felling in Aarey Colony in Mumbai, saying they are not against the Metro car shed, but the place where it is proposed. “Development should not happen by causing hardships to people,” he said, asserting that the Sena will continue to raise its voice on issues pertaining to citizens.
He also expressed confidence that the BJP-Sena alliance will provide a much better administration and governance if it wins again in the upcoming state polls. Asked about Sena’s protest over crop insurance, Thackeray said he takes a stand on issues concerning people.
“When the government publicises its achievements, the work done is seen on the ground. I will continue to highlight people’s issues before the government,” he said.
“Did I betray the government or conspire to pull it down…No. We were in government without any power for last five years. There were differences, and we raised our voice wherever we felt things were wrong,” he said.
Thackeray said that for the alliance to stay intact, both the BJP and Shiv Sena need to exercise caution.
“We need to control our mind. If you accelerate speed unnecessarily, we can meet with an accident. This has happened earlier,” he said, in an apparent reference to the breaking of the Sena-BJP alliance ahead of the 2014 state polls. Thackeray said his party forged an alliance with the BJP in the interest of Maharashtra.
“I compromised for the sake of the state. I am confident we can provide good administration and governance in next five years based on the previous experience,” he said.
“What was Devendra Fadnavis’ experience when he first became the Chief Minister. Some of the Shiv Sena ministers were in that position earlier,” he noted. On the raging issue of tree felling in Aarey Colony, which is considered as Mumbai’s green lung, Thackeray said the Sena is not opposing the Metro car shed, but the place where it is proposed to come up.
“Development shouldn’t happen at the cost of hardships to others. The proposed car shed in Aarey is opposed by Mumbaikars, not Shiv Sena,” he said.
“It is not my party’s personal issue. We need the Metro and development of the city. But while doing that, we shouldn’t lose something more valuable,” he added. Thackeray said Mumbai is the only city in the world to have a natural forest cover and wildlife.
“The murderers of Aarey trees will have to pay a price for axing trees in the middle of the night. (Sena corporator) Yashwant Jadhav, the petitioner, was fined ₹50,000 (by court) while dismissing his plea. But murderers of Aarey trees will be responsible for damage to the environment,” he said.
The Sena chief said he was thankful to the Supreme Court, which restrained the authorities from cutting anymore trees in the Aarey Colony, for “taking a different stand.” On Sena’s opposition to the Nanar refinery project, Thackeray said his party supported the local people.
“The Sena’s stand to oppose the project was not for my personal gain or the party’s political interest,” he said.
Even in the case of the Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Corridor project, the locals opposed it, he said, adding that he went there and saw “fertile land being declared as barren” by government officials.
“This is not an anti-government stand. We spoke to the people opposing the project. We got the route changed by saving the farms,” he pointed out.
Justifying criticism of the Congress and NCP and their leadership by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaigns, Thackeray said if the opposition targets the Shiv Sena and BJP, “then we have to highlight their tenure.” Noting that the Sena played the role of opposition many times, he said, “I am against the misuse of power and politics of revenge. Don’t know about the ED. But misuse of CBI is not new. You reap what you sow.”
On claims that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was being misused to target political opponents, Thackeray asked, “Who are these political opponents? Are they clean?”
“Nobody is targeting clean leaders. Will you agree that all those on the ED’s radar are clean?” he said.
To a question on speculations that he was also facing the pressure of the ED, Thackeray said, “What is the fear if you haven’t done anything wrong. I am a fighter’s son. I am not scared. Don’t experiment on me.”
On the upcoming Assembly polls, he said the Sena has to be prepared in all the 288 seats of Maharashtra. “Preparation doesn’t mean contesting elections or winning or losing. I want the Shiv Sena’s ideology to reach in each and every ward,” he said.
In the first part of the interview which released Thackeray said that he is not retiring. His son contesting the elections does not mean he will take a back seat, and expressed confidence that a Sena worker would one day become the state’s chief minister.
Thackeray even claimed that his party was able to put a check on the ‘Modi wave’ in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly Elections, in an interview to Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’. But he once again reiterated that there was no point in a discussion now on why they parted ways with the BJP at that time. Out of 288 assembly seats in Maharastra, Shiv Sena is contesting on 124 seats while BJP will contest on 164 seats with smaller allies.
“One day, a Shiv Sainik would become the chief minister of Maharashtra, it is a promise I made to my father and Sena founder late Balasaheb,” Uddhav Thackeray said in the interview, a part of which was released on Monday.