Mumbai: After nearly two years of being at odds with ally BJP, with whom it runs the Maharashtra government, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today came up with his most scathing comment so far – saying his party had "wasted" 25 years being in alliance with the BJP. "For 25 years or at least two generations, we held each other’s hands and moved on. We could have come to power on our own strength long ago but we rotted in this alliance with the BJP,” rued Thackeray.
He said the alliance may have been a political necessity then, “but if the Shiv Sena had gone independently, the picture would have been totally different now”. In the concluding part of a marathon three-part interview published in the party mouthpieces Saamana (Marathi) and Dopahar ka Saamana (Hindi) on Tuesday, ahead of his 56th birthday on Wednesday, Thackeray spoke to Executive Editor and MP Sanjay Raut.
He said there was a time when all top leaders of the state and the masses were solidly behind then Sena chief Bal Thackeray but unfortunately “we had to rot in the alliance for 25 years”.
That is because it was an alliance of ideologies without any selfish motives on the part of the late Bal Thackeray and out of genuine nationalist concerns without looking for short-terms gains, he said.
“Bal Thackeray never hankered for power. He was only concerned about preventing a split in Hindu votes. But later, the BJP broke the alliance.”
He said after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) snapped its 25 years of ties ahead of the 2014 assembly elections, the Sena fought those polls independently but had got only two weeks to prepare. Otherwise, the situation would have been different.
He added that the continued survival of the alliance depended on both parties. But if the BJP keeps talking ‘apne dum par’ (on our own), the Sena will not lag behind and install its chief minister in the next elections in Maharashtra.
Thackeray, however, said he had a “good rapport” with BJP Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
“He’s sincere, hard working and doing his best. However, the day we feel Shiv Sena is being treated unfairly, we shall quit the government.” But the Sena won’t resort to blackmail and destabilize the state government.
Responding to a query on some BJP leaders’ demand to “bottle the Sena demon”, Thackeray said the BJP had clarified the remarks was not targeted at the Shiv Sena. “They should actually bottle the demons of inflation, terror and corruption. Do you have the guts to do it? Otherwise, don’t cross our path.”
Discussing the upcoming Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation elections, the Sena chief said the two parties had initiated negotiations for putting up a united fight. In case the BJP wanted to break the alliance, this time the Sena was fully prepared to fight and win the civic body polls independently, unlike the 2014 assembly elections.