Shiv Sena Supremo Bal Thackeray on Wednesday criticised businessman Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who is embroiled in controversial land deals, while accusing the Congress party of shielding Mr. Vadra.

“India is a nation of cheats,” said the 86-year-old Sena chief, alluding to allegations of Mr. Vadra’s murky real estate deals.

Mr. Thackeray appeared visibly tired in a pre-recorded address broadcast to party cadres on the eve of the Shiv Sena’s annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park here.

Mr. Thackeray, who was to be present at the Shivaji Park function, could not make it. His son, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, presided over the function, a tradition carried on by the party since its inception 46 years ago.

In his broadcast, the Sena chief publicly acknowledged his poor health, stating he often suffered from bouts of breathlessness these days.

“First it was the British, and these days it is the Italians who are dominating this country… [Mr.] Vadra and his family should be thrown out of this country,” he said.

Prophesying that his party would seize power in the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly elections, Mr. Thackeray said his party was prepared, even if the parliamentary elections transpired at short notice.

Attacking the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mr. Thackeray commented that the Sharad Pawar-led party had never stood up for the rights of the State’s indigenous populace.

“Sharad Pawar says Maharashtra is multi-lingual… he should be ashamed of his statement,” said Mr. Thackeray, exhorting the people of Maharashtra to stand by his party.

He further stated that the recent resignation of the former Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader, Ajit Pawar, was a parody.

Referring to the recent violence in Assam, Mr. Thackeray alleged that neighbouring Bangladesh had already taken control of a part of that State.

He further accused politicians at the Centre of not being serious regarding the Assam-Bangladesh border issue, or giving it enough weight in politics.

Praising his party for taking up numerous issues, he asked if it was left to the Sena to take up this (Assam border dispute) issue too.

As a solution, he urged for immediate dispatch of the Army to resolve the crisis.

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