Shiv Sena head Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday attacked the BJP for supposedly just having commercial interests in Mumbai and took subtle jabs at Eknath Shinde, the chief minister of Maharashtra, and Devendra Fadnavis, the deputy chief minister. The former chief minister of Maharashtra also poked fun at the national convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, claiming that the Sena has also done good things but doesn’t promote itself.
Before the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections, which are anticipated to take place later this year, Thackeray made these remarks.
“Delhi has good schools. And across the country it should happen. BMC schools too were once looked down upon, but today I can proudly say that people queue outside Mumbai public schools. This is Shiv Sena’s work. I respect Arvind Kejriwal’s work. I have no hatred for anyone, but where we fail is we don’t advertise what we do,” Thackeray said.
At Mumbai’s NESCO ground, the Shiv Sena president was addressing party officers.
Attacking the BJP harshly, Thackeray claimed that while Mumbai may only be a square foot for the BJP to sell to real estate brokers, for the Shiv Sena and Thackeray, it is their motherland.
Thackeray claimed the former party attempted to split the Marathi Manoos during their fight for Samyukt Maharashtra (United Maharashtra) in the 1950s (prior to the creation of the state of Maharashtra) and the fight for Mumbai. Thackeray recalled that the BJP had its roots in the now-defunct Bharatiya Jana Sangh party.
“What are you accusing me of being a dynast? I am proud of my family lineage. You have an eye on Mumbai and when the fight for Mumbai and Samyukt Maharashtra was going on, Jan Sangh was not a part of that fight,” he alleged.
Thackeray added: “In fact when the Samyukt Maharashtra Samiti was established, one of the first five main leaders was my grandfather. Everything was burning then. They wanted Mumbai in Maharashtra and during the elections, it was Jan Sangh that broke away from the Samiti and broke the Marathi Manoos. This is their children.”
Thackeray also warned the BJP against using a divide and rule policy and said, ”We are here not just to gain votes. Balasaheb Thackeray never said that all Muslims are traitors. We are with everyone. As a CM I never differentiated between anyone. Your divide and rule policy won’t work here,” he said.
In the next municipal elections, the BJP has vowed to unseat the Shiv Sena, which has held sway over the BMC for the past 25 years.
Shiv Sena officials had also congregated at the same location five years prior to the previous BMC elections to energise the cadre. When the Sena opted to run alone in the elections because it was tired of being second fiddle to its longtime coalition partner, the struggle had once again been against the BJP.
The Shiv Sena split earlier this year, when a group of rebel MLAs led by Eknath Sinde left the party to support the BJP. This led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state, which was a coalition of the Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Congress. The upcoming BMC elections follow this split. Shinde was appointed chief minister, and the BJP alliance and dissident Sena faction went on to establish the state’s administration.