Uddhav Thackeray raps Rahul Gandhi for remarks on Savarkar

He however lauds the Congress leader for asking tough questions to BJP on industrialist Gautam Adani

March 26, 2023 10:26 pm | Updated March 27, 2023 12:55 am IST - Pune

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray addresses a party rally at Malegaon in Nashik on March 26, 2023. Photo: Twitter/@OfficeofUT

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray addresses a party rally at Malegaon in Nashik on March 26, 2023. Photo: Twitter/@OfficeofUT

While lauding his ally and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for asking tough questions to the BJP on industrialist Gautam Adani, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray nonetheless sharply upbraided Mr. Gandhi over the latter’s remarks on Hindutva ideologue V.D Savarkar, remarking that the Sena (UBT) regarded Savarkar as “a deity” and would “not tolerate any insult” against him.

Addressing a packed rally at Malegaon in Nashik, Mr. Thackeray, the former Chief Minister of the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, said that while his Sena faction had wholeheartedly backed Mr. Gandhi’s recent Bharat Jodo Yatra, it would not tolerate any insult to their deities (V.D. Savarkar) in the ongoing fight to save democracy.

“Rahul Gandhi speaks well. The BJP has no answer to his questions about Gautam Adani. But today, I say openly to Rahul Gandhi, that while we have come together in this fight [against the BJP] to save the constitution and democracy, Savarkar is our deity we will not tolerate any insult to him,” Mr. Thackeray said, urging Mr. Gandhi not to let cracks emerge within the alliance at the time of this critical fight to save democratic freedoms.

Stating that it was impossible for an ordinary person to achieve and endure what Savarkar suffered at the hands of the British authorities at Andaman’s cellular jail during his incarceration, Mr. Thackeray, without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called upon the ‘Savarkar bhakts’ within the BJP to join him in saving the country’s freedoms from the ‘dictatorship’ that the Prime Minister and the top BJP brass were leading the country to.

Sensitive topic

Mr. Gandhi’s frequent criticisms of the controversial Vinayak Savarkar — a particularly sensitive topic in Maharashtra — had embarrassed Mr. Thackeray during the former’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the State in November last year as well, leading to talks of schisms within the MVA.

Meanwhile, training his guns on the Eknath Shinde-led Sena and the BJP, he dared the ruling government to call for elections. He further challenged the BJP to announce whether it would fight the 2024 Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections under the leadership of current Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

“I say [to the BJP and the Shinde faction] take the elections as quickly as possible. You [CM Eknath Shinde and BJP] seek votes in PM Modi’s name I’ll seek votes in my father’s [late Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s] name,” said Mr. Thackeray, criticising CM Shinde for still taking Bal Thackeray’s name for justifying his intra-party revolt of June last year.

The Sena (UBT) leader took jibes at BJP State president Chandrashekhar Bawankule’s recent remark that the BJP would only give 48 seats (of the 288 seats in the State Legislature) to the Shinde group in the 2024 Assembly election.

Censuring the BJP at the Centre for trying to pressure the judiciary, Mr. Thackeray said that it was only because of current Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that democracy was still alive.

“This is not my fight, but a battle to save democracy [from the BJP]…Because of the CJI, there is still hope in the Supreme Court. The day he leaves, the BJP will push their own candidate for the post,” said Mr. Thackeray.

This was Mr. Thackeray’s second rally (after the one in Khed in Ratnagiri a fortnight ago) following the Election Commission of India’s decision to award the ‘Shiv Sena’ name and party symbol to the Shinde faction.

With Mr. Thackeray trying to woo the minority community to his side, Muslim-dominated Malegaon witnessed a heated run-up to the rally.

An intense war of words and banners was seen with the Shinde faction and BJP disparaging the Urdu banners that were displayed in support of Mr. Thackeray.

Uddhav camp loyalist Sanjay Raut hit back at the BJP by remarking that Urdu too was a language widely used in this country.

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