Updated 26th October 2020 | 11:33 IST
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a blistering attack on the BJP and therefore the central government on Sunday, accusing them of getting no ideology, norms, or culture.
Thackeray demanded that the govt either fix the issues of the GST regime or revert to the sooner system. He also accused the BJP of playing politics over the Covid-19 pandemic, and said the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva was about nationalism, not “clanging bells and utensils”.
Thackeray compared the exit of the BJP’s old ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal, from the NDA, and its veteran Maharashtra leader Eknath Khadse from the party, to a dahi handi pyramid that was hollowing at rock bottom, and was on its thanks to inevitable collapse.
“When your foundation stones weaken, you’ve got no ideology, norms of conduct, culture, nothing. Such a government isn’t getting to last long. I again challenge you (the BJP) to topple our government (in Maharashtra) but first protect your government (in Delhi). Because at some point, people will look beyond you and say, ‘give us anyone else, but not you’. This thought has already started,” the Chief Minister said.
Thackeray was speaking at the Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally from the Savarkar Memorial auditorium near Shivaji Park in Dadar. The strict Covid-19 protocol meant only a get group of fifty Ministers, leaders, MPs, and MLAs were present face to face at Thackeray’s first Dussehra rally after he became Chief Minister last year – the masses of Shiv Sainiks watched the rally virtually on the party’s social media platforms.
The Centre owed Maharashtra Rs 38,000 cr in GST dues, and other states were complaining also, Thackeray said. “I feel that the GST system has failed and that I appeal to all or any Chief Ministers of the country to return forward to debate this. I feel that the Prime Minister should accept the lacunae within the GST system honestly, which should be amended accordingly. Otherwise, we should always revert to the old tax regime which will benefit the states. The country isn’t the property of 1 party,” he said.
“Whatever is occurring within the country is extremely strange,” Thackeray said. “The Covid-19 crisis has disrupted economies across the planet. At such a time, if the BJP is more curious about toppling governments rather than listening to the country’s economy, then I feel we are inviting anarchy.
“The quite attention you (BJP) are giving to your party, give some attention to the country because the situation has deteriorated,” he said.
On the BJP’s election promise of providing free Covid-19 vaccine in Bihar, Thackeray asked: “Is the remainder of the country Pakistan or Bangladesh or Kazakhstan? those that are speaking like this and playing divisive politics should be ashamed of themselves.”
Without naming Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Thackeray said those that were questioning the Shiv Sena’s Hindutva were “hiding in their holes” when the Babri Masjid was demolished. “People who weren’t known beyond their family, are asking us questions on Hindutva. Your Hindutva is about clanging bells and utensils; our Hindutva isn’t like that. Our Hindutva is nationalism,” he said.
Koshyari recently wrote to Thackeray demanding that places of worship be opened in Maharashtra, and mockingly asking the Chief Minister whether he had turned “secular”. Maharashtra has the country’s biggest Covid-19 caseload and has seen the foremost deaths from the disease.
In a veiled attack on actor Kangana Ranaut for likening Mumbai to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), the CM said, “Those who come to Mumbai for bread and butter are abusing Mumbai by comparing it with PoK”, and described such people as “namakharam (ungrateful)”.
To compare Mumbai with PoK was an insult of Modi who has been PM for 6 years, and had promised to bring back PoK, Thackeray said. “You aren’t ready to put your foot in PoK. But if a PoK is being created during a country that’s ruled by Modi, then it’s the failure of the PM and not of the state,” he said.
On the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput, the CM said: “Had there been any evil in his death, Mumbai and Maharashtra Police would have surely investigated it.” pertaining to the “mudslinging” against the govt, the Thackeray family, and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray, he said: “You cannot do anything against us as we are clean… You used offensive language against us, but nothing happened because we are clean. Now you’ve got to swallow it all back.”