A day after Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s Dussehra rally at Dadar’s Shivaji Park, the state BJP on Thursday dismissed his speech as lacklustre and directionless and said that it was a replay of the same old script, with nothing new to offer.
“Shimgya var bolaycha nasta,” Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in Marathi on Thursday, meaning you do not take words muttered during Holi seriously. The subtle message was that Uddhav had failed to meet expectations and issue clear directions to his followers on D-Day.
“I don’t think the Thackeray speech has anything new to offer to people. It is high time he changed his scriptwriter. How long can you repeat the same old tape?” Fadnavis asked.
In two separate rallies on Wednesday, Uddhav and rebel Sena leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde laid claim to Shiv Sena founder, the late Bal Thackeray’s legacy.
On Thursday, drawing a parallel between the two rallies, Fadnavis said, “Chief Minister Eknath Shinde in his speech elaborated on what work he is doing. He spoke of present and future plans for Maharashtra. This aspect was missing when Uddhav Thackeray was CM. As he was always in Shiv Sena president mode, he never spoke like a CM.”
Fadnavis also praised Shinde for his ability to draw a mammoth crowd at the BKC rally. “The BKC ground is twice as big as Shivaji Park but it was filled to maximum capacity. It has shown who is holding the reins of real Shiv Sena,” the deputy chief minister asserted.
At the Shivaji Park rally, Uddhav’s no-holds-barred attack was not limited to the Shinde camp – whom he referred to as “parasites” – but also included the BJP. From inflation and border disputes with Pakistan and China to the exodus of mega projects from Maharashtra to Gujarat, several issues were raked up. “Amit Shah has become an in-house home minister. His role is to bring down elected state governments. I give him an open challenge to get back PoK. There is infiltration from China along the borders which has to be dealt with firmly,” Uddhav had said.
Thackeray even directed his ire against Fadnavis, who holds the Home portfolio, by drawing attention to police excesses against Shiv Sainiks. “Is there law and order? Why are our leaders identified and subjected to harassment?” he had questioned.
The BJP, however, dismissed Uddhav’s criticism as mindless rumbling.
“The work of PM Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah is known to the world. Whether it was the abrogation of Article 370 or action against Pakistan, the central leadership has proved itself many times,” BJP state General Secretary Shrikant Bharatiya said.
Another BJP office bearer said, “It is ridiculous that Uddhav, who cannot hold his own party intact, is issuing a challenge to Amit Shah. Seriously, he should introspect why his own Sainiks have left him and joined Shinde.”
State BJP vice president Prasad Lad said, “Thackeray’s speech had no content. He could not reassure his own followers. It was a poor show. Apart from some taunts against BJP and Shinde, it had nothing. It was absolutely bogus.”
While admitting that they knew Thackeray was bound to criticise BJP, many said that he failed to decide who was his number one political rival. So, part of his speech was an attack on Shinde and the rest on BJP, they said.
In his speech, Uddhav also referred to RSS General Secretary Dattatreya Hosbale, who had recently voiced concerns over poverty and inflation. Uddhav praised the RSS leader for criticising the central leadership for failing to address core issues.
“RSS leaders often, in private or public, speak about national issues of public concern. In that context, it was not unprecedented for Hosbale to tick off the Centre for failing to check inflation or poverty. It is also a part of a strategy to play the role of an in-house constructive opposition,” a senior BJP functionary said.