Confirming that his party has buried the hatchet with the BJP, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday showered praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi while terming the united opposition as a “headless” bunch.
“There were differences with the BJP, but they have been overcome. All the controversies have come to an end. Hindutva and nationalism are the ideological core of both the parties,” he said at a public event held ahead of BJP chief Amit Shah’s nomination in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar.
“My father (Balasaheb Thackeray) used to say that Hindutva is our breath, and we cannot live without it,” he claimed, as supporters raised cries of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”.
Mr Thackeray had been sore at the BJP for the better part of the last five years, after the latter won 122 of Maharashtra’s 288 seats in the 2014 assembly elections. The period even saw the Shiv Sena attacking the Narendra Modi government on several issues cited by opposition parties, including the alleged misuse of constitutional bodies and adoption of electronic voting machines. The two parties, however, resolved their differences last month by arriving at a 50-50 seat-sharing agreement.
The Shiv Sena chief insisted that the misunderstanding was now a thing of the past. “Many political parties celebrated when the BJP and the Shiv Sena were having differences, but they are all taken aback to see me here today,” he said.
Mr Thackeray hit out at the grand alliance, claiming that it was born out of opportunism. “There are 56 opposition parties who have joined hands, but their hearts have not yet met. We have one leader. Who is your leader? Who will be your Prime Minister? Everybody is an aspirant there, and infighting for the post has already begun,” he said.
He claimed that the Shiv Sena believes in sorting its problems in the open. “We had our issues and we raised it (with the BJP) because we don’t believe in the culture of backstabbing. And now I have come here to support it wholeheartedly,” the politician said.
Union Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke after Mr Thackeray, recited a short poem to reject the allegations of corruption levelled by the opposition against PM Modi. “Chowkidar chor nahin hain, woh pure hain. Chowkidar chor nahin hain, unka PM banna sure hain. Chowkidar chor nahin hain, woh har samasya ka cure hain (The watchman is not a thief, he is pure. The watchman is not a thief, he is sure to be re-elected as the Prime Minister. The watchman is not a thief, he is the cure for all our problems),” he read to a cheering crowd.
Mr Singh also insisted that forming alliances was not a compulsion for the BJP, but a commitment to take everybody along.