Mumbai: Going against the established notion that states like Delhi, Bihar, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have stopped the Modi wave in the country, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday said that his party first stopped the wave in Maharashtra during 2014 Assembly polls.
He was referring to the first break in the Sena-BJP alliance in 2014 after which BJP won 122 seats — little short of the majority and Sena won 63 alone. Taking a dig at the BJP that has attracted flak from all quarters for taking goons in the party, Uddhav said he was glad to break the ties else his photo would have appeared with another goon Pappu Kalani on the BJP poster's.
In an interview given to this publication, Uddhav said he recalled how the BJP broke the alliance with Shiv Sena in 2014 when his party was not emotionally prepared. But despite the favourable atmosphere for the BJP, Shiv Sena managed to stop the landslide victory for the BJP in the state. He even criticised BJP over criminalisation of politics and expressed confidence in coming back to the BMC on its own.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis compared Mumbai with Patna do you agree with that?
It was shocking. On what grounds did he compare Mumbai with Patna? In fact they tried to malign Mumbai’s image and your definition of Patna is a bad city. You have hurt sentiments of Mumbaikars by connecting it with Patna. You have said Patna is bad and hurt their feelings too.
When will you break alliance?
Let the BMC polls get over. I am getting shocks every day. I am glad that I broke the alliance else my photo would have been printed with Pappu Kalani. This would have been horrible situation for Sena. Modi, Amit Shah and Pappu Kalani and my photo. There is uneasiness everywhere. We had some expectations about BJP that this party is different than others and therefore we remained in alliance with them for 25 years. They believed in ‘sadhanshuchita’ (morality). but now it has become party of goons. It is shocking. They are allowing goons in the party. I would not be surprised if Dawood Ibrahim shares their dais and if he goes to BJP he can become Dawoodachari! So what are you making Mumbai? Patna?
Has the BJP become so desperate to take anyone without checking his background?
It is because they do not have a party cadre.
Is this the only reason why the Sena is not going with BJP?
No, there are other reasons also. The BJP’s demand for the seats was too high. We have done really good work for Mumbai. If you see earlier speeches by BJP during inauguration or laying foundation stone of the ceremony, they all praised us and BMC. Now you have turned because we were not ready to give the seats they demanded and suddenly Mumbai has become the worst city.
Will there be mid term polls in the state if you break the alliance at the state government?
Let the BMC polls get over first. Because, the BMC polls are directly related to lives of Mumbaikars. It is a question of the facilities they are getting. So, at present, I am not interested discussing or envisaging the state politics. I am not saying everything is fine in Mumbai. But you cannot ignore the works done by us. I can proudly claim that we have gone ahead step by step in last 20 years.
Recall the situation 20 years back. Even if you see our hoardings and their hoardings you will realise that we have highlighted the works done by us. But they have claimed the works done by Congress like metro rail, Chhatrapati Shivaji memorial, Dr Ambedkar memorial, Balasaheb Thackeray’s memorial. You criticise Congress then why do you show the works by the party and not by you.
Actually, the state government is the authority for all these projects and the BMC has nothing to do with it. We have gone beyond the memorials. We have built dam to quench the thirst of Mumbaikars, we have started medical college, truma care centre, given tabs to the students. What you have done?
Why the BJP’s manifesto is being criticised?
So far, the Vachannma was always prepared by us and BJP just used to send pictures of its leaders to be printed on it. We used to get so many photos that it was a tough task to accommodate them all. What do we show the promises or the photos? It was the only participation they had in Vachannama. Now they are struggling with it. You take their manifesto and ours and compare. We have stick to the BMC’s works. But they have given some promises for which the budgetary provision has been made by us already. They have said to complete Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs). But we have already laid foundation stone for the STPs without help of the Centre and the state.
A delegation of Sena ministers met the CM demanding loan waivers to farmers?
Yes they met the CM. I would say this is a troublesome period for all. After good rainfall last year, the farmers were really happy and hopeful to get good crops. But demonetisation destroyed everything. The farmers were the worst affected due to it. Their zilla banks were not allowed to transact. So, Sena raised the issue before the Centre and demanded complete loan waiver to the farmers. But the BJP is fraud that they have forgotten acche din and promised loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh, the state that the BJP would not be winning. The BJP did not get elected in any of the state elections after Lok Sabha. They lost Delhi Bihar, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry. In Assam they win but it was an unfortunate situation and the people had no option there. The people do not want Congress and BJP too.
Do people need a third front?
They need regional parties in their states. You see in many states, the people have votes for the third front. I want that there should be some minimum common programme on which the regional parties should come together. We are original regional party unlike BJP. We are connected to the soil here. This is my wish and lets wait for the regional parties to react on it. Mamata Banerjee had called me some time back and told me to be in touch with you. In Goa we are in alliance with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Paksha which is local there. We are contesting on only four seats there. We have a face and thoughts and if other similar parties are coming together then why not make an alliance with them.
It has been alleged that BJP is trying to separate Mumbai. Do you agree?
No one can dare to break Mumbai. We have already warned them. They will try to lessen importance of Mumbai. We have drawn the Centre’s attention that a few offices of the central government were shifted out. The city gives the highest revenue of two lakh crore to the country. So, where does the money go? I told them to give us 25 per cent of it which comes out to be Rs 50,000 crore to the state and Mumbai. We do not need smart city funds which I refused. We need our share in proportion with the contribution.
Did you take revenge from BJP for breaking the alliance with Sena in 2014 Assembly polls?
No, not revenge. We had alliance for 25 years. It was not just a political alliance but had emotional relations with Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji, Advaniji and also with their families. We and even our families evolved relations with each other. That all sanskar we had for 25 years and hence we never wanted the alliance should break. But they brutally broke the alliance. We were not prepared emotionally during the Assembly to break alliance. The Lok Sabha polls were just over and we had only three-four months. We fought and stopped their wave in Maharashtra first after which their fall started. The BJP lost in Delhi, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal every state. Then nobody had dared to challenge Modi when we stopped them first here.
I still went in alliance because we fought with the same thought of opposing Congress. If something was going to happen good then we should stay together without much complaints. But we have always worked as watchdog on the government. We have always pointed out discrepancies in the government. It was not for my personal benefit but for the people.
Why did you meet Hardik Patel?
He wanted to meet me. Modi comes here, Sharad Pawar comes here then what is wrong if Hardik comes to meet me? If Narendra Modi can hug Nawaz Sharif then what is wrong in Hardik Patel meeting me? He is just 23 years old boy and he is good. I have not forged any alliance with him. But you declare him anti-national. On the other hand you help to terrorist Burhan Wani’s brother. How can you ask me question for meeting Hardik Patel?
Do you have a soft corner towards BJP?
I had a soft corner about ‘the’ original BJP of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani’s..It also had leaders like Pramod Mahajan, Gopinath Munde. The leaders had some ideology and thoughts. If you see Atalji’s speech it was never dishonest, there were no chunavi jumlas. It used to be straight from the heart. I still have Atalji’s speech in my phone. There was mithas (sweetness) in his speech. They were cultured leaders.
Do you mean to say that Shah and Modi do not belong to the same culture?
Do you think so? We always look at that one face as the face of the nation. But if that face looks arrogant then the people’s feeling about the country may get affected. One could be upright but he should not be arrogant.
You shared good relations with the CM but now you said that you do not have so?
I was shocked after he started lying. I was always expected that would speak truth because he was always participated in the inauguration works by the BMC and praised us then. At least do not speak lie if you cannot speak truth. He wants to save his chair. He is personally a good man but he has to protect uparwale ki marji (top party leadership in Delhi). He has to do what uparwala says. If the uparwala says lie then the CM has to lie.