Mumbai: Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Monday admitted to a virtual breakdown in communication with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national leadership.
He attributed this mainly to a “generational shift” in the BJP — with which the Sena is allied both in the central and Maharashtra governments. Seasoned BJP leaders have been replaced by a younger lot, he said.
“The generation changed and the new dispensation got power very quickly. But after stabilizing in office, they should look for open dialogue,” Thackeray said.
In the second of a three-part interview published on Monday in the party mouthpieces Saamana (Marathi) and Dopahar ka Saamana (Hindi) ahead of his 56th birthday on July 27, Thackeray spoke at length with Executive Editor and MP Sanjay Raut.
There was a time when then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to regularly call up and discuss issues with the late Shiv Sena President Bal Thackeray, he said. “Then, there were Pramod Mahajan and Gopinath Munde who continued to connect with the Sena and BJP at the centre. Such great individuals are no more,” Thackeray rued.
He pointed out that the elder generation in the BJP – comprising people like Vajpayee, Advani, and others – was out of politics. The Sena chief, however, added that he enjoyed a rapport with Maharashtra Chief Minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.
The almost three decades long ties between the BJP and Sena broke down on the eve of the 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections. The Sena sat in the opposition benches briefly before joining the ruling BJP – with the avowed claims of keeping the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party out of power.
Elaborating, Thackeray said instead of concentrating on a “Congress-free” India vide political misadventures like in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP would do better to “free and get back Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or Chinese-occupied Arunachal Pradesh – the nation will be forever indebted to BJP”. Warning the BJP not to take the people for granted, he referred to 1980 when the voters threw out the Janata Party government and brought back Indira Gandhi to power.
“Don’t make the mistake of writing off the Congress so soon. That party is well-entrenched in India since before independence. See the recent outcome of local body elections in Gujarat where it came up trumps. So, avoid taking the Congress so lightly,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray referred to the economic situation and said though Prime Minister Narendra Modi “appears to be doing a lot”, the changes the people expected in two years have yet to materialize. “All these ‘ache dins’, Make In India, Skill India, Start-up India, which were launched with much fanfare, when will they take off and start bearing results?” he asked.
To a question on bringing back black money stashed abroad, he said the assurance “definitely helped the BJP in elections – then what? Merely issuing large media advertisements won’t help in the long run”. Asked to name five major achievements of the NDA, Thackeray said: “Modi has done a lot of things. So it would be difficult to name just five.”