Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, in his speech at the party's annual Dussehra rally at Mumbai's Shivaji Park, defended the party's alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and announced some key points of the party's manifesto ahead of the Assembly elections on 21 October.
In his 35-minute speech, the Shiv Sena chief also touched upon issues like the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute, the case against Sharad Pawar and revenge politics.
He said for his party the Ram temple issue is above politics and not related to the upcoming Assembly polls in Maharashtra. Thackeray said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised that nobody should speak about the Ram Mandir since the matter is being heard in the Supreme Court.
"But, the case has been pending for the last 35 years. Courts are closed on the day when Ram killed Ravan (Dussehra). Courts are also closed on the day Ram returned to Ayodhya (Diwali). However, the issue is whether Ram was born in Ayodhya.
"It is said that this month the court verdict will be out. We are confident that the court will ensure justice. Otherwise, we stand by our demand that a special law should be enacted to construct Ram Mandir in Ayodhya," he said.
The Shiv Sena is not seeking the temple for politics, he said, but for honouring the demands of the people.
Justifying the alliance with the BJP, he said the scrapping of Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was a demand the Shiv Sena had been making for several years.
"If not the BJP, then should I have gone with the Congress which opposed the nullification of Article 370 and sedition laws?," he asked. "Now, the next agenda should be to bring Uniform Civil Code," the Sena chief said.
"The alliance with the BJP has been forged for the welfare of the state and for the cause of Hindutva. We have had to make some compromises. I apologise to Shiv Sainiks whose seats have gone to alliance partners," he said.
Adding that he is aware of the criticism faced by his party, he said that the Shiv Sena does not bow down in front of anyone. Uddhav also said the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance is genuine, unlike the SP-BSP tie-up in Uttar Pradesh which "was solely based on greed for power and was hence rejected."
Taking a potshot at Ajit Pawar, who recently resigned as a legislator and had reportedly said that he will take up farming, Uddhav mocked the NCP leader's "crocodile tears." "How will he take up farming if there is no water in the dams?" he asked.
He also announced some keys points of the party's yet-to-be-released manifesto and promised to tackle the issue of revenue records of farmers, saying that he aimed to make farmers debt-free.
Providing full meals for Rs. 10, 30 percent reduction in electricity fares up to consumption of 300 units, basic health tests at Re 1 all over Maharashtra and bus facilities in rural areas for safety of girl students were some of the other promises he made.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Oct 15, 2019 14:12:07 IST