Congress-NCP alliance for Mumbai civic polls a measure of their weakness and Sena's strength

Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday refuted the view that the upcoming Mumbai corporation election was a fight for existence, in the face of a combined Congress and Nationalist Congress Party opposition.

“How can it be a fight for existence when we have fulfilled our promises? We have functioned in a transparent manner. Mumbaikars will definitely give a fourth term to us,” Mr. Thackeray said in response to a question. He said the fact that the Congress-NCP had to form an alliance to contest the polls was a measure of their weakness and the Sena's strength.

“Despite being full of scorn for each other, the Congress and NCP have come together. They are always berating each other. They are both worthless. When such worthless forces become partners, it is only going to benefit us. We will win more seats,” Mr. Thackeray said.

Asked about his assessment of the non-Marathi vote, the Sena leader said he did not regard the citizens of Mumbai along Marathi and non-Marathi lines. “I look at the Mumbaikars as a whole.” He also questioned what the Congress-NCP had done for the non-Marathis.

‘Polity deteriorating'

Alluding to personality politics and incidents of political vandalism, Mr. Thackeray said the polity in Maharashtra was deteriorating. “This kind of violence is disgusting. Maharashtra's politics was traditionally cultured. Yes, there can be accusations and counter-accusations but to resort to violence is to stoop very low. The people will not tolerate this.”

About rebellion in the party, Mr. Thackeray said it was not significant and rebels had been expelled from the party.

Slams MNS chief

Reacting to his estranged cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray's criticism of the functioning of the Mumbai civic body, Uddhav said the MNS leader was blind to the development brought about in the city.

He also hit out at Raj for his view of retaining Belgaum in Karnataka. “Only talking about Marathi pride is not enough. If he cannot understand the issue and the sentiments of the Belgaum people, it is his misfortune. The people did not go to live there. They were already living there when the [Karnataka's Statehood] was imposed on them,” he said.

Fielding questions on schools, water supply, health and infrastructure in the city, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray said his party's administration in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had met “90 per cent” of the promises of the earlier manifesto. On the pothole issue that rocked Mumbai, he said the scale of the problem was exaggerated and his party had completed much of the mending work.

“Step-motherly” treatment

He said Mumbai was given a “step-motherly” treatment by the Centre. Apart from receiving poor funding, permissions for development works were being delayed. “Find out how much time the Centre took to give approval to Lavasa and to Middle Vaitarna dam project in comparison. For Lavasa, the Chief Minister himself went to meet the Central leadership and even a minister in Delhi was changed to give the clearance.”

He also accused the Congress-led government of clipping the powers of the BMC by giving rights to various other bodies such as the Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Public Works Department.

Concern over EVMs

Mr. Thackeray raised his concern about complaint over the electronic voting machine. He called upon all political parties to come together and find a solution.

To a question, the Sena leader termed the incident where Karnataka ministers were found watching pornographic film in the Karnataka Assembly “despicable.”

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