'Chowkidars' have become thieves, says Thackeray in fresh salvo on BJP, PM

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'Chowkidars' have become thieves, says Thackeray in fresh salvo on BJP, PM
'Chowkidars' have become thieves, says Thackeray in fresh salvo on BJP, PM

Solapur (Maharashtra) : Seen as a slanted attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid growing unease in ties with the BJP, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said with various scams in the country, "it seems chowkidars have become thieves" -- a takeaway from Congress slogan.

Referring to what he termed as "scams" in the defence and agriculture sectors besides 'jumlas' of other schemes such as Rs 15 lakh in every Indian's bank account or the construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Thackeray attacked the ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party on various fronts.

Addressing a much-anticipated rally in the temple town of Pandharpur, Solapur district, he hit out at the BJP for getting "possessed" by the spirits of gods in raking up the Ram temple before elections, but achieving nothing in the past over three decades.

"I went to Ayodhya (November) and have come to the holy land of Pandharpur. I want to wake up the sleeping Kumbhakarna -- you exploited Ram temple to win elections and now you are in a slumber. We will not rest till the Ram temple is constructed," Thackeray roared.

"The PM makes all kinds of promises which he says will be implemented by 2022 - this means people must vote for him in 2019. After that, he will again say everything was a 'jumla' to be said during elections," Thackeray said.

He said when the BJP is questioned about the temple construction, it says the matter is "in courts". "But was it not aware of this 30 years ago?" he asked.

Congratulating Janata Dal (U) chief Nitish Kumar and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan for their pacts with the BJP, Thackeray countered: "What is their stand on the Ram temple? Why are they silent on it?"

He demanded a parliamentary debate on the Ram temple and Hindutva issues, where "it will become clear who is with NDA and against."

Dwelling on the farmers issues, he said the government has indulged in 'jumlas' such as doubling farmers' incomes, but there is no such scheme. Despite tall claims, crop insurance and debt waiver have not reached the common peasantry, he said.

"There is a scam bigger than Rafale in the agriculture sector. Despite having four state-run insurance companies, the government has given out contracts to 12 companies who have nothing to do with crop insurance. The poor farmers may be debt-ridden, but they will not flee like Vijay Mallya or Nirav Mod-Mehul Choksi," Thackeray said.

Touching upon Rafale, he said most questions raised on it have not been answered yet, but the government claims it has got a "clean chit' from the courts. He alleged that "there are scams in defence purchases sector" undermining the crucial requirements for the country's security.

"The government is now invading privacy of individual Indians and blaming Congress for everything. Tomorrow, they will impose Emergency and say even the Congress did it," Thackeray said.

Barely a week after BJP President Amit Shah in Mumbai expressed "confidence" in working out an alliance with Sena for the 2019 elections, Thackeray hinted otherwise. "The Shiv Sena will form the next government. We are not interested in seat-sharing talks -- that can go to hell. We want to first resolve the farmers issues and construct the Ram temple."

However, probably leaving a small window open for negotiations, he added in the same breath that "the people of the state will decide whether to go for alliance", but vowed to unfurl the Sena flag over the state.

Claiming that the defeat in the five state elections recently has "shattered the BJP's arrogance", he said the people of those states voted courageously without bothering about "options and alternatives" (to the BJP).

Referring to the drought situation in the state, he said recently a Central team came and carried out a hurried survey. "But now he (Thackeray) would go on a tour of all the drought-hit regions of Maharashtra in January and every Shiv Sena 'shakha' (branch) will act as relief centres for farmers."

Meanwhile, BJP state President Raosaheb Patil-Danve, reacting to Thackeray's hard-hitting speech, said the Rafale verdict has been given by the Supreme Court and said 90 per cent farmers have already got the benefit of the loan waiver announced in June 2017.