Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that the party “wasted 25 years” because of its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, The Indian Express reported.

Thackeray, who is the chief minister of Maharashtra, made the remarks on the occasion of the 96th anniversary of party founder Bal Thackeray. This was his first public appearance after he underwent spine surgery in November.

Uddhav Thackeray said that his party supported the BJP’s national ambitions, according to PTI. “The understanding was they will go national while we will lead in Maharashtra,” he said. “But we were betrayed and attempts were made to destroy us in our home. So we had to hit back.”

The Shiv Sena and the BJP entered an alliance in 1989 and remained allies till the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly election. The alliance ruled the Maharashtra government from 1995 to 1999.

After the 2019 Maharashtra elections, the Shiv Sena allied with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

The Shiv Sena chief on Sunday said that he will soon undertake a tour of Maharashtra. “I will show the power of Saffron to the opponents who are worried about my health,” he said. “Like there is a caretaker government, they are caretaker opposition, and they will self-destruct.”

Thackeray also said that Shiv Sena has left the BJP, but not Hindutva. He accused the BJP of using Hindutva only for opportunistic politics.

“Creating an environment of slavery like the Britishers is not Hindutva,” Thackeray said, according to The Indian Express. “True Hindus will never allow it to happen....Those who were against the Emergency are creating [an] Emergency-like environment in the country.”

Responding to the chief minister’s remarks, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said that the Shiv Sena only gave speeches during the agitation for the Ram temple in Ayodhya, while BJP workers “faced bullets and sticks”, ANI reported.

“I want to remind them that their party [Shiv Sena] was not born at a time when BJP corporator was there in Mumbai,” Fadnavis said. “Till the time they were with us, they used to be number 1 or no 2 party but now they are at number 4.”