MUMBAI: Lashing out at the BJP by warning of “surgical strikes” if they snapped ties with it, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said the party would strike an alliance with the saffron party for the crucial elections to the cash-rich Mumbai civic body, on its own terms.
He also walked a thin line on the demand for quotas by the dominant Maratha community which had led to a massive churn within the Sena.
Speaking at the Shiv Sena’s Dusshera rally on Tuesday, Uddhav reiterated the late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s stance of having quotas in jobs and education based on economic criteria. He said if this was not possible, the Marathas should be given their “just rights” without affecting reservations for categories like the other backward classes (OBCs).
The massive morchas by Marathas seeking quotas have led to a churn in the Shiv Sena as the OBCs, who form a bulk of the party’s support base, resent the attempt to enter the backward class category.
In a major climbdown, the Sena, which also enjoys support among poor Marathas, was forced to apologise for a cartoon in the party mouthpiece which mocked protestors at the massive Maratha rallies sweeping Maharashtra.
“People suddenly get brainwaves (and say) we may form an alliance or not or even contest the elections on our own. I want to tell them, if you have the guts, break the alliance now and take us head-on, our men are ready,” said Uddhav.
Pointing to how the BJP had snapped its alliance with the Shiv Sena on the eve of the 2014 assembly polls, Uddhav said said they would not be caught on the wrong foot now.
“I will not speak on the BMC (elections) now. Let something adverse not happen because of me. We will not come to you with a begging bowl but will take what is due to us,” said Uddhav, asking the cadre to prepare for the elections without thinking about an alliance between the Shiv Sena and the BJP. This decision, he said, would be taken at an appropriate time.
The BJP, which elbowed out the Shiv Sena to emerge as the single-largest party in the assembly polls, is demanding a larger pound of flesh in the elections to the BMC, which is the richest civic body in India.
While praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Indian Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) to destroy terror launch pads, Uddhav said the BJP-led state government had allowed the release of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book last year despite the Sena’s opposition.
Pointing to Modi’s promise of getting back black money back to India, Uddhav tried to tap the discontent in the business community on Income Tax raids on small vendors and eateries, Uddhav dared the authorities to conduct similar action in Muslim-dominated localities.