NAGPUR, Maharashtra: Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray addressed the speculations regarding the fate of his three-party government in an interview, in which he also dared the BJP to try and topple his government.
In an interview with his party mouthpiece Saamana’s editor Sanjay Raut, who had recently interviewed NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Thackeray was at his combative best, taking on all the rumours over the functioning of his government.
“People say politics is not my field. It is true. I am an artist. But you don’t need only experience to do good things. The genuine feeling to do something good is more important. I may be the only example in the world where people thought of me as the least eligible person but I made it as the party chief. People thought I don’t understand much but I am now the CM,” Thackeray told Raut.
When asked about the recent attempts by the BJP to topple the Congress-led Rajasthan government and the March ouster of Kamal Nath’s government in Madhya Pradesh, the Maharashtra chief minister openly dared the BJP and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is currently the leader of opposition in Maharashtra assembly, to try and topple his government.
“This government is not dependent on the Leader of the opposition. They are free to try and topple it. After MP and Rajasthan, they are saying that it’s the turn of Maharashtra. Come and topple,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray, whose coalition government is battling allegations of a rift even as coronavirus cases continue to rise, said the limits imposed by the pandemic may have led to some confusion among the allies.
“Face-to-face meetings have stopped. Some of our ministers were also infected with Corona. We have to rely on video conferences or phones for communication. There were some misconceptions that we were favoring NCP over the Congress but those have been allayed. I have good relations with Sharad Pawar and I keep talking to Sonia Gandhi frequently,” he said.
On the allegations of his government’s over-dependence on bureaucracy, Thackeray said, “Had that been the case we would not have received praise for doing a good job in a place like Dharavi. You cannot give orders also and execute it as a part of the government.”
Citing the example of Tukaram Mundhe, the Municipal Commissioner of Nagpur, who had locked horns with BJP over his tough anti-coronavirus measures, the CM said, “Do you want to throw the machinery in the dustbin? (How can the government) Bring order and execute it also. I stand by Mundhe. Some officials could be tough and some people may not be happy with it. But I stand by him. The public has masks on their face but not on their eyes. They can see what is happening.”
“Ours is a government for the poor. It’s not a bullet train government but an autorickshaw government and all the three wheels are going in one direction,” he added.
He also said he agreed with ally and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar’s statement on the Ram Mandir stone-laying ceremony. Pawar had said that “some people think constructing a temple will help” in fighting coronavirus, referring to the ceremony slated for 5 August.
Thackeray, who has earlier criticised the Modi government for the delay in constructing a temple at Ayodhya, said that there should have been an e-Bhoomi Puja for the temple.
“The role of Shiv Sena in Ram temple movement is historically documented. We were the ones to demand an ordinance on Ram temple. I went to Ayodhya in 2018 and next year I became the CM. It is my belief, even though some people might call it superstition. I can go to Ayodhya but what about lakhs of people who want to attend the ceremony? Last time we went to Ayodhya, we were even stopped from doing prayer citing the beginning of coronavirus,” Thackeray said.