Mumbai: As the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government completes a year Saturday, the Maharashtra chief minister slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on a number of issues, from allegedly misusing central agencies to targeting families of political rivals to not supporting state governments, warning the opposition to not compel him to act.
In an interview to the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece, Saamana, Thackeray, also president of the party, glossed over all reports of differences within the three parties that make the MVA, maintaining that the alliance has been functioning smoothly with the diverse parties having almost “meshed as one”. The MVA comprises Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress.
The CM was in conversation with Sanjay Raut, a senior Shiv Sena functionary, Rajya Sabha MP and executive editor of Saamana.
In a veiled attack on the BJP, Thackeray said, “I am calm. I have control, but that doesn’t mean I am impotent. The way our families are being targeted, this is not Maharashtra’s tradition… Be warned if you try to put pressure (on us) using ED etc. Those who get sadistic pleasure by being after our family, children, do remember that you also have family and children.”
He added, “You are not just washed rice. We know how to cook your khichdi.”
Thackeray’s comment was a veiled reference to recent allegations made by BJP leaders against members of his family. Earlier, a few BJP leaders had alleged the involvement of Thackeray’s son, Aaditya Thackeray, also a state cabinet minister, in the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Then earlier this month, former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had questioned the Thackeray family on vested interests when he highlighted how Thackeray’s wife, Rashmi Thackeray, had along with state cabinet minister Ravindra Waikar’s wife purchased land in Alibaug in 2014 from the kin of interior designer Anvay Naik, who committed suicide in 2018.
The Raigad Police this month arrested Republic TV Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who Naik had named in his suicide note, in an alleged abetment to suicide case, a move that the BJP severely criticised.
‘We have all the ‘maal masala’ ready’
Thackeray said the politics of vengeance that is being played by the opposition has never gone down well in Maharashtra, and not just the government, but the entire state will retaliate.
The CM defended his government’s move of withdrawing general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying “when you start using CBI we have to put such limitations”.
“Whether it is ED, or CBI, doesn’t the state also have a right on it? We have names, we can give names. We have all the ‘maal masala‘ ready. But, should we act out of vengeance? Then what will the public expect from us? If we have to act out of vengeance you come up with one thing, we will come up with 10,” Thackeray said.
The CM also condemned the politics surrounding the death of actor Rajput as “beyond perverse”.
“I look at the issue with compassion. Because those who need to sell the butter of a corpse’s head aren’t fit to be in politics,” he said.
Thackeray, whose party was a former BJP ally, also indirectly threw barbs at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hinting that he is not worthy of sitting on the PM’s chair, and alleging that the Centre does not support non BJP-ruled states.
“A number of states feel this. Someone is PM today, someone else will be tomorrow. I am the CM today, it will be someone else tomorrow. But, to begin with, why are we sitting here? It is expected to forget party differences and work. You take an oath. You should treat everyone equally, but instead if you are bringing politics into it then you aren’t worthy of sitting on that chair,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray makes Goswami arrest controversy a ‘Marathi manoos’ issue
In his interview, CM Thackeray chose to make Goswami’s contentious arrest an issue about the growth of the “Marathi manoos” in Maharashtra.
“Should the Marathi manoos not stand in the state? Should he not have any businesses? Outsiders will come, dance on his chest, cheat him and if he commits suicide and if he names some people as responsible, they should not be investigated. It should be hushed up, and if the case is reopened you put ED behind the person who spoke for these people (the family)?” he asked.
“This means you will bury the Marathi manoos in Maharashtra and dance and we should tolerate that? That will not happen,” CM Thackeray said, referring to the ED’s raid earlier this week on various premises owned by Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik.
‘Three parties meshed as one’
In the past one year, there have been several instances of disgruntlement and lack of coordination between the three MVA allies with opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis even slamming it as an “unnatural alliance”.
Indirectly taunting the BJP, Thackeray said last year some people assumed that Shiv Sena has no option and will have to drag itself behind them.
“This was their belief, which we shook. The Congress’ role is important here, there’s Sonia ji. The NCP’s role is important. There’s Sharad Pawar ji. They also showed courage and trust,” the CM said, adding all ministers have only given him love and respect, and treat his word as final.
“I am not just saying this for the sake of it, but I don’t think it has been difficult. The three parties have meshed with each other… Sometimes I am surprised. I see the cabinet, I don’t have any experience yet I am sitting there.
“And all these people, till yesterday, they were all against each other. I am very happy with the performance of the cabinet. Everyone is behaving in an understanding manner and everything is going well,” Thackeray said.