In his last campaign rally for the February 16 Mumbai Corporation elections, Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray targeted Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, Robert Vadra, for his alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum scam.
“Look at the way dynastic rule is manifesting itself in the Gandhi family. Sonia's son, daughter, daughter's husband, their children are all donning the mantle of dynastic rule. Mr. Vadra has opened a new can of worms in the Congress. He himself is involved in 2G scam, but he is now given entry in politics,” Mr. Thackeray said at the rally of the Shiv Sena-BJP-Republican Party of India combine here on Monday.
The Sena chief said he had never encouraged dynastic rule in his party. “It was Raj [Thackeray] who, in my absence, proposed to make Uddhav executive president. I wasn't aware of it and didn't approve of it either. Even in Aditya's case, the students chose him to lead them. I will never let dynastic politics enter the Shiv Sena.”
Raj is the estranged nephew of Mr. Bal Thackeray and Aditya is Uddhav's son.
“We won't vanish”
Assailing Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan for predicting the decimation of the Sena after the civic polls, Mr. Thackeray said. “Do you have any vanishing cream that you will apply to us and we will vanish? The Shiv Sena will never vanish,” the ageing leader said during his 45-minute speech.
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray advised Mr. Chavan to take care of the factions in the ruling coalition before passing comments on others. “[Deputy Chief Minister] Ajit [Pawar] does not even acknowledge your presence, neglects you. Take care of problems in your own house first,” he said.
Referring to Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar and his party, Mr. Bal Thackeray said: “These so-called Marathas in NCP [Nationalist Congress Party] should feel ashamed that a foreigner woman is ruling the country today. What is the use of celebrating August 15 and January 26? Even the flag feels ashamed.”
Reminding Mr. Pawar of their old friendship, he challenged him to speak the complete truth. “I have never retracted my words. Why do you have to dig [out] old issues? If you have even an ounce of honesty left in you, tell the complete truth,” he said referring to Mr. Pawar's criticism that he had made anti-Dalit statements.
Mr. Pawar recently said Mr. Thackeray had opposed the renaming of Marathwada University. “He remembers my asking why Dalits want a university when they do not even have food to eat. But he does not remember the stand behind it. He does not remember that it was me who finally gave the solution and renamed the university Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. I had taken the side of the poor. I meant that they should be provided food first.”
Mr. Thackeray also took credit for getting the domicile rule passed in the State. “When Vasantrao Naik was Chief Minister, I got the 15-year domicile rule passed. Look at what is happening in Mumbai. Hordes of people are coming in. Who will provide them amenities? When I said this for the first time in 1966 that permits should be issued to those who come to the city, Communists criticised me. But the system is followed in many foreign countries including Russia.”
Mr. Thackeray criticised Mumbai Police Commissioner for his order that ill policemen should report to office to show they are ill.
BJP leader Gopinath Munde demanded that the Congress present a White Paper on the expenditure on development of Mumbai. “They have no love for the city. They have only exploited it,” Uddhav said.