Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Monday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale jet deal, labelling him a thief. The Centre has been accused of overpaying for the fighter aircraft in a deal that has allegedly benefited businessman Anil Ambani.
“A company [Ambani’s Reliance Defence] which had no experience was given a contract,” the Shiv Sena chief said at a rally in Pandharpur. “The salary of the soldiers of our country needs to be increased, which you don’t bother about, but you indulge scams in purchase of arms and ammunition.”
“There has been a scam in the Rafale deal,” Thackeray added, according to the Maharashtra Times. “Nowadays, even the watchman has started committing theft.” The Shiv Sena is an ally the Bharatiya Janata Party in the National Democratic Alliance.
The Shiv Sena chief also criticised the Centre for the delay in the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Thackeray referred to the government as Kumbhakarna, a mythological character in the Ramayana who slept for months. “I will travel the whole country to wake you up,” the Shiv Sena president said. “Hindus are not asleep, even though you may be. So, we ask you to wake up, else the furious Hindu will not rest until he wakes you up.” Thackeray said he had visited Ayodhya and Varanasi last month to wake the Centre from its slumber, and might do so again.
“It has been 30 years and still you say that matter is in court,” Thackeray said at the rally. “Hindus are innocent but not fools. Let there be a discussion in Parliament on the Ram temple issue, who are in your favour on this issue in the NDA will be clear. To hell with seat-sharing discussions [between BJP and Shiv Sena for the 2019 polls]. I have no interest in them.”
The Shiv Sena has raised its pitch for the construction of the temple in Ayodhya. During his visit to Ayodhya and Varanasi, Thackeray dared the Centre to bring an ordinance and announce a date for the construction of the temple.
On Monday, Thackeray also took on the BJP for their defeat in the recently-concluded Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana. “BJP has lost face,” he said. “They had created an illusion that they can win all the elections – from a gram panchayat to New York. I particularly feel proud of Mizoram and Telangana since they defeated national parties,” he said.
The Shiv Sena chief also attacked the BJP over its handling of the problems of farmers. “If fighting for justice to farmers is a crime, I will commit that crime,” Thackeray said. “Punish me if you have the guts.”
Thackeray claimed that the Shiv Sena will not join hands with the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections next summer. He also claimed that his party will form the government in Maharashtra in 2019.