Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said seeing the support he is getting from people, even Pakistan will tell whom the real Shiv Sena belongs to, but the Election Commission (EC) cannot do so as it is “suffering from cataract”.
He also said that his party and supporters would ensure that “traitors” would be politically finished, a reference to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his supporting MLAs, whose rebellion led to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June 2022.
In a big blow to the Thackeray-led faction, the Election Commission earlier this year allotted the ‘Shiv Sena’ name and its poll symbol ‘bow and arrow’ to the group led by CM Shinde.
Addressing a mammoth rally of his party at Pachora in Jalgaon district of north Maharashtra, Thackeray thanked his supporters for coming to the public meeting in large numbers even if he had nothing to offer after he lost the party name and symbol to the rebel group.
“Seeing the number of people present here, even Pakistan will know who the real Shiv Sena is, but not the Election Commission which is suffering from cataract,” he said.
He exhorted his supporters to express their anger over the rebellion by CM Shinde and 40 party legislators through the ballot boxes to ensure that they are politically finished.
Mr Thackeray said the party’s “vajramuth” (iron fist) was a very important part of the MVA alliance and dared the ruling Shinde-led Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to conduct elections.
He said his party’s mashal (flaming torch) will set the throne of Mr Shinde and BJP ablaze.
Those who won elections on his party’s ticket betrayed him, but those who got these people elected were with him, he asserted.
“We will see to it that you are finished. We have cleansed the blot on the state created due to the treachery. Maharashtra is the land of brave people and not traitors,” Mr Thackeray said and asked the party workers if they would fight till the victory.
The former chief minister asked the BJP to clarify if it would contest the state Assembly elections next year under the leadership of Eknath Shinde.
“State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule has said that Shinde’s party will be allotted only 48 seats (out of the total 288). Will the BJP fight the election under a person contesting only 48 seats?” he asked.
Thackeray said he would travel throughout the state to appeal to people to defeat the traitors.
He also said he hopes to get justice from the Supreme Court.
“But these people (opponents) are working on the possible fallout of the Supreme Court verdict and speculations have started over another split in the Shiv Sena and its allies Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will meet the same fate,” Thackeray claimed.
He also asked the BJP to declare what Hindutva meant to it.
“Does Hindutva mean a cow slaughter ban in some parts of the country and attacks on women, murder of people on the suspicion of carrying cow meat?” he asked.
Mr Thackeray said saffron doesn’t look nice in the hands of traitors. “Since they have nothing of their own, they steal from others,” he alleged.
He also said the intention behind holding the Maharashtra Bhushan Award in an open ground amid the scorching summer heat last Sunday, which was attended by lakhs of people, was not good.
Fourteen people died after suffering from sunstroke at the event held at Kharghar in Raigad district, where Union minister Amit Shah honoured social worker Appasaheb Dharmadhikari with the Maharashtra Bhushan award.
Terming BJP ‘s politics as “appalling”, Mr Thackeray said it forces opposition leaders to join the party by levelling allegations of corruption against them.
“But once such leaders are inducted into the party fold, these corrupt people become clean while the political careers of good people in their own party is destroyed,” he alleged, referring to NCP leader Eknath Khadse, who was earlier with the BJP.
“BJP doesn’t want their allies and also good people in their own party. I fail to understand what kind of politics this is,” Thackeray said.
Referring to former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik’s revelations on the Pulwama terror attack, Mr Thackeray said, “Union minister Amit Shah recently wondered why Malik didn’t speak when he was the governor. But Malik has already replied to it claiming he was asked by the prime minister to keep mum.”
The challenge before the country is not the BJP, but overcoming the damages it has done to the state and the country while being in power, he said.
“They (BJP) are misleading people to such an extent that the latter don’t even realise how they are being harmed,” Thackeray charged.
Earlier, Thackeray unveiled the statue of late R O Patil, who was a two-time MLA from Pachora belonging to the Shiv Sena, and asked his supporters to back his daughter Vaishali Patil for the Pachora constituency in Assembly polls.
Jalgaon district comprises two Lok Sabha and 11 assembly seats. The two Lok Sabha seats are Jalgaon and Raver, both represented by the BJP.
Of the total 11 Assembly seats – in the 2019 polls, the Shiv Sena won four seats – Chopda-ST (Latabai Sonawane), Jalgaon Rural (Gulabrao Patil), Erandol (Chimanrao Patil) and Pachora (Kishor Patil). All four have switched over to the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)