Mumbai: Amid reports of bickering within the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said his “three-wheeler government” is running smoothly in a single direction and dared the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to try and topple it.
In the final part of his two part interview with Sanjay Raut, executive executive editor of the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana, Thackeray admitted that even though face-to-face meetings between leaders of the three parties — Congress, Shiv Sena and the National Congress Party (NCP) — had reduced due to the Covid crisis, the coalition government was stable. The final part of the interview was published Sunday.
“I accept that in the last 2-3 months face-to-face meetings have become difficult…In such a situation, meetings have become difficult. Some meetings are happening over the phone or through video conferencing,” Thackeray said.
“We have Sharad Pawar saheb. We have Congress’ Sonia ji. Besides, we have Congress’ other state leaders. We are applying learnings from our experience now. We also reflect on our shortcomings in the past. I don’t see parties with labels. I see the government as a government. We look at what the government has done, what it should have done and we work,” the Maharashtra CM added.
In the past, several MVA ministers, especially those from the Congress, have expressed dissatisfaction about not getting their due in the Thackeray-led government and also pointed out the lack of coordination and sufficient dialogue.
However, according to Thackeray, while there were some misunderstandings initially, they have been resolved now.
“Some may have initially had these feelings, but no one has come to me and said in so many words that I don’t pay heed to them. I have a good dialogue with Pawar saheb and at times I also call Sonia ji,” he said.
‘BJP’s democracy is toppling governments’
In the interview, Thackeray noted that toppling governments has become the BJP’s definition of democracy.
“What else can they do? This is their democracy. This means, here, our government is anti-democracy and their government, which is formed through underhand measures, is democratic,” Thackeray said.
“What are you waiting for? Do it now,” he added, daring the Opposition to destabilise his government.
Thackeray also talked about the recent defections to the BJP and noted that no politician has ever gained anything or been elevated suddenly to the top post by switching sides and joining an opposition party, and said that it was just a “use and throw” ideology.
The chief minister, however, defended his own decision to switch sides and ally with hitherto political rivals Congress and NCP, saying, “I went with someone else earlier, but realised their intentions were hollow. That’s why I took this decision.”
‘Will not support bullet train project if people don’t want it’
Thackeray, whose party has been opposing the former BJP government’s Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project since its inception, said that nobody should assume that he will suddenly support the project now that he is the chief minister.
“I am only saying, as a Chief Minister I will take a holistic view. My opinion, because I am with the people, is that I don’t want the bullet train project. But, even now if everyone’s opinion is that there shouldn’t be a bullet train, I won’t implement the project,” the CM said. However, he added that several people were opposed to the project.
According to Thackeray, if at all there has to be a bullet train in Maharashtra, there should be one connecting Mumbai and Nagpur.
Referring to the MVA alliance, Thackeray said, “A three-wheeler rickshaw is a vehicle for the poor. If I have to pick between a bullet train and rickshaw, I will pick the rickshaw.”
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