By Prashant Hamine. Photographs by Azad Shrivastav
Launching a frontal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, accusing them of peddling lies, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray upturning Modi's slogan of Congress Mukt Bharat, called upon all political parties to join hands together to make Modi Mukt Bharat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Addressing MNS rally on the eve of Gudhi Padva at Shivaji Park, Dadar yesterday, he alleged that since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government has failed to deliver on its promises it is carefully pushing the Ram Mandir case in the Supreme Court. He cautioned the people to be watchful of attempts to stoke communal riots after the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the Ram Mandir case.
The MNS president argued that already talks are on with minority organisations that once the SC verdict is out it would stoke communal riots. Thackeray stated that the BJP government will once again try to play the emotional card and hope to ride back to power. He added that the Centre and the state government has failed on all fronts and all its promises made stand exposed today and hence are raking up emotional issues. The MNS chief claimed that some years ago he had argued that fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim would try to come back to India. He said that now reports are appearing in the media to this effect. Thackeray alleged that there are adjustments going on at the Centre for his return to India.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of peddling lies, Thackeray stated that if there is change of government at the Centre after 2019 polls, then post-Independence, the demonetisation will be the biggest scam to come out of the BJP governments closet. Raking up his pet subject of Marathi Manoos and plans to carve Mumbai out of Maharashtra, the MNS president alleged that the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train was a ploy to take away Mumbai from Maharashtra. He further contended that it was late Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who was against giving Mumbai to Maharashtra. Thackeray alleged that in the name of Samruddhi Corridor, Bullet Trains jobs of local Marathi youth are being taken away by outsiders.
Just a day before what has become his trademark Gudhi Padva rally at Shivaji Park, Dadar, the MNS president called on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar at the latters Silver Oak residence in south Mumbai. Though the MNS chief termed it as a curtsey call and argued that he did not get a chance to talk personal after their recent public interview in Pune, political analysts argue that the MNS now has begun to cozy up to the NCP ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha, Assembly elections. Sources added that the NCP chief is cobbling up a rainbow alliance of political parties in a bid to halt the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from retaining power at the Centre and in the state.