Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday launched a multi-pronged attack on the opposition BJP in the state assembly that convened for two days in a special session. The Shiv Sena leader, who touched upon several sensitive topics including the Maratha quota issue, peppered his speech with stinging attacks — the sharpest being his response to the BJP’s recent jibe that he, a right-wing leader, has become secular. The Congress-NCP ally, while announcing a fund for the preservation of ancient temples, said: “This will make you (opposition) understand that we have not given up Hindutva“.
Mr Thackeray said the state government will take up the restoration and preservation of ancient temples with an aim to “promote ancient culture and traditions”. He said the project will be undertaken in a phased manner and sought the cooperation of the opposition in identifying temples for preservation.
An acrimonious exchange had erupted in October between Mr Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari over the reopening of places of worship shut because of the coronavirus pandemic. After the Governor, in a sarcasm-filled letter, questioned whether he had “turned secular”, Uddhav Thackeray had shot back that he did not need a Hindutva certificate from anyone.
Mr Thackeray today also responded to Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis’ charge of “undeclared Emergency” made over the police’s action of preventing Maratha quota activists from entering Mumbai. He referred to the Enforcement Directorate’s recent action against Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik and said: “Asking the ED to go after those who bring breach of privilege against your favourite people is political perversity”.
Mr Sarnaik had submitted the breach of privilege notices against television journalist Arnab Goswami and actress Kangana Ranaut to the office of the assembly Speaker in September.
“Pratap (Sarnaik) has been called by the ED. His sons have been called by the ED. His grandchild hasn’t been born yet or they also would have been summoned by the ED. They may have said as soon as the grand child is born bring the child before us,” Mr Thackeray said.
Mr Thackeray also took a dig at Mr Fadnavis and other state BJP leaders, saying they should be in Delhi to tackle the farmers’ protests.
On BJP’s attacks over his government’s Covid response, Mr Thackeray said, “The WHO, Washington Post have praised the Maharashtra government’s work in containing the pandemic in Dharavi. It’s sad that you (BJP) can’t see this.”
Mr Thackeray assured the assembly that the existing OBC quota will remain intact and attempts to create a social divide by spreading rumours on the inclusion of Marathas in the reservation category won’t be tolerated.
“The legal battle for (restoring) the Maratha quota is in the final stage. We have neither changed the legal team nor our stand on Maratha quota. We will win the legal battle,” he said.