Uddhav Thackeray

NASHIK: Opening the election war front with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray said here on Tuesday that “now the Lord Ram Temple task over, the PM should talk work”.

In a scathing attack, Thackeray said that he and his party had campaigned vigorously for Modi in the last two Parliament elections, and the late Balasaheb Thackeray had tied up with BJP for the cause of Hindutva.

“At that time, we were not dishonest… Now, suddenly we are branded as corrupt… So many of my party leaders like Kishori Pednekar, Rajan Salvi, Suraj Chavan, Ravindra Waikar, Anil Parab are facing allegations, Sanjay Raut was even jailed on false charges. We are being hounded and defamed by the central investigation agencies,” said Thackeray, addressing a party convention.

Taking objections to the Ayodhya Temple Trust treasurer Govindgiriji Maharaj drawing parallels between Modi and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in his speech after the Pran Pratistha of Lord Ram Temple, Thackeray said that “there can be absolutely no comparisons”.

“It was because of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Balasaheb Thackeray that the temple issue came to the fore… It was due to Balasaheb Thackeray that Maharashtra and the country were saved on several occasions from enemies, terror attacks and riots, when my Shiv Sainiks took police caning and bullets. But today some blind followers (andh-bhakts) are saying such things. Now we are repenting for the tie-up with BJP,” Thackeray rued.

He added that Lord Ram is not the private property of any leader or any party, but the BJP has even tried to hijack Lord Ram, and declared how “now the time has come to ‘free Lord Ram from the BJP’ clutches”, on the occasion of Balasaheb Thackeray’s 98th birth anniversary on Tuesday.

Sharpening his attack, Thackeray said the BJP keeps asking “what the Congress did in 75 years”, but now they have to reply “what has Modi done in 10 years”, advising the PM not to just keep mouthing ‘Jai Shri Ram’ but also live up to Lord Ram’s ideals.

He said that when the Congress fought for India’s Independence, neither the RSS nor the Jan Sangh were there, and they did not join the Freedom struggle, but on the contrary, the Jan Sangh attempted to sabotage the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in the 1960s.

Referring to the series of probes in BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Thackeray said “why single out only BMC, probe the civic bodies of Thane, Pune, Nagpur and others also”.

He questioned the corruption in the BJP, the ‘ambulance scandal of Rs 8,000-crore’, and alleged that the PM Care Fund had started all the big scams in the country.

“The PM Care Fund must be probed… where has all the money gone, why no details are given… When we come to power, we shall investigate all these things and put those who are guilty behind bars,” thundered Thackeray, as the crowds cheered and clapped.

Training guns on the ruling ally Shiv Sena headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the Shiv Sena (UBT) chief warned that “we will not rest till we defeat all the traitors in the next elections” in the state.

“They say that I am running a dynastic party… Yes… But I have inherited everything including my Shiv Sainiks… I have not stolen anything like you did…,” said Thackeray in a swipe at Shinde, who split from the original Shiv Sena in June 2022.

Referring to, but without naming the recent defection of Milind M. Deora from the Congress, he slammed the BJP and Shiv Sena for “taking away leaders of other parties as they do not have any idols in their own parties”, and accused the BJP of indulging in the British era strategy of ‘divide-and-rule’ with the opponents.

Thackeray, accompanied by his wife Rashmi and son Aditya, kick-started his party’s 2024 poll campaign from the pilgrim destination of Nashik, in the presence of top leaders and a large number of activists, performed a ‘maha-aarti’ at the famed Kalaram Mandir, organised a procession and other activities to rejuvenate the party cadres.

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