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Was ready to leave MVA & join hands with BJP in last attempt to convince rebels, says Uddhav

In second part of Saamana interview, Sena chief says he would have teamed up with BJP after getting clarity on 3 points, including ‘misuse’ of central agencies against Shivsainiks.

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Mumbai: Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has said that during his final attempts to convince the rebel MLAs to remain within the party fold, he was even ready to leave the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance with the NCP and Congress, and join hands with the BJP.

In the second part of his interview to Sena MP Sanjay Raut for party mouthpiece Saamana — which was aired online Wednesday morning — the former Maharashtra chief minister said he would have joined hands with the BJP only after getting clarifications on three major points, including the “misuse” of central agencies against Shivsainiks.

“In the last moments, I spoke to the untrustworthy rebel, ‘If you want to become the chief minister we can talk about it. I would speak to Congress-NCP about it. If you want to join hands with BJP, then I need clarity on 2-3 points’,” Uddhav told Saamana executive editor Raut, in what appeared to be a reference to rebel MLA and now Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde.

“After getting that clarity, I would have gone with folded hands to Congress and NCP that my people do not want to stay with you. But they (rebels) had no courage to tell me the reasons. They had, in fact, no reasons at all. Every day new reasons were coming up,” he added.

The Sena chief was speaking to Saamana on the occasion of his 62nd birthday. This is the first time he has spoken at length about the issue since being unseated by a rebellion within his party that led to the fall of the MVA government last month.

Part one of the interview went up Tuesday morning.

Also Read: Uddhav ‘wanted patch-up with BJP, said he spoke to Modi about alliance in 2021’ — rebel Sena MP

‘Was ready to go with BJP but…’

Admitting that he was willing to join hands with BJP if the rebels of his party would have spoken to him, Uddhav said he had sought clarity on three pressing issues. “I was constantly told that there is pressure from some MLAs, that they wanted to go with BJP. I said okay bring those MLAs in front of me and give me clarity on two three issues.”

The first issue was the “harassment” of Shivsainiks at the hands of central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate, including those who worked to “save Hindutva during riots”, like Anil Parab or Raut. “I want to know for how long this harassment will go on? This is meaningless and unnecessary torture,” said Uddhav.

The second issue was related to the BJP having denied what was decided during the 2019 elections (sharing of the CM’s post for two and a half years each). “What will the party do about those issues and will the BJP treat Shiv Sena with respect or not?” Uddhav asked.

Thirdly, he said that for the past two and a half years, the Thackeray family had suffered insults at the hands of the BJP. He claimed that there had been continuous name-calling and personal attacks: “When Balasaheb’s family, Matoshree, were getting attacked personally, what did you do? Why did you not speak up earlier? Just because it is your insistence, should I forget this and give away Shiv Sena to BJP?”

Uddhav reiterated that had the CM post-sharing formula allegedly decided upon in 2019 been honoured, the BJP would have had its CM by now: “If Shiv Sena’s CM would have been there in the first half term, I along with Sena’s CM would have signed on the paper stating the day and date of resignation. Everything would have been done respectfully.”

The Sena president also said that he was constantly being told how Congress would be the first party to leave (the MVA) and how NCP chief Sharad Pawar can never be trusted when in fact, it was his own people who deceived him. And this was because the BJP wants to use Shivsainiks to finish off the Sena, he claimed.

“My own people deceived me. So if I would have gone for a floor test, even one vote against me would have been shameful for me,” Uddhav said.

Mumbai at the centre

Mumbai is at the heart of Shiv Sena’s politics. During the interview, Uddhav once again appealed to Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis: “For your ego, don’t destroy Mumbai. Otherwise we would have to say that since they are not from Mumbai, they have no love for the city.”

He also alleged that the BJP wants to finish off the Shiv Sena’s hold on Mumbai. “It is their dream. Just like Raavan’s life was in his navel, similarly, their life is stuck in Mumbai. It is a bit strange that despite getting hold of Delhi, they still want to rule over Mumbai.”

He recalled how Sena founder Bal Thackeray, while forming alliance with the BJP, had said that the BJP should rule over the country and he will take care of Maharashtra.

“You are not letting us expand in Delhi, we don’t even want to, but you are not even letting us grow and expand in Maharashtra, then what’s the point of such an alliance,” Uddhav asked.

The former CM said he is confident of a win in the upcoming civic polls despite the BJP’s efforts to “divide” the Marathi and non-Marathi vote banks, as he is confident that all Mumbaikars are together.

Uddhav also said that from August onwards, he is ready to tour the entire state. There is a membership drive going on and once that is done, he along with regional, zonal leaders will tour Maharashtra, he added.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: ‘Thaw with Shinde, signal for patch-up with BJP’ — why some Sena MPs want to back Droupadi Murmu


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