Shiv Sena (UBT) chief and former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray invoked late former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his Dussehra speech at Mumbai’s iconic Shivaji Park, as he highlighted the importance of a “mili-juli sarkaar” (coalition government) at the Centre. 

Thackeray also lashed out at his former aid and Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde, daring him to call the Assembly elections at the earliest to ascertain the real claimant of Shiv Sena. 

Here are the 10 key highlights:

– Despite losing the Shiv Sena name and electoral symbol to rival Shinde, Thackeray asserted that the bulk of the party’s cadre are with him, adding that his group is the real claimant to the legacy of late Sena founder and his father Bal Thackeray.

– “Conduct the elections (in Maharashtra) and the people of Maharashtra will tell you (Eknath Shinde) who is the real Shiv Sena. I challenge you to conduct election in Maharashtra,” news agency ANI quoted Thackeray as saying.

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– Thackeray, while sharing his thoughts on the national political scenario, said the the country needs a strong government but not a one-party brute majority rule.

– Thakeray batted for a “mili-juli sarkar”, as he made a reference to the central governments that were headed by late former PMs Manmohan Singh, PV Narsimha Rao and Vajpayee. The Shiv Sena, then headed by his father, was part of the Vajpayee-led NDA government between 1998 and 2004.

– “We saw a strong government. There should be a strong government, but not of any one party with a brute majority,” the Sena (UBT) president said, targetintg his former alliance partner, the Centre-ruling BJP.  

– Further hitting out at the BJP, Thackeray claimed that neither the party nor its predecessor Jana Sangh took party in the freedom movement, the Marathwada liberation struggle or the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, that led to the formation of the state of Maharashtra in 1960. 

– A significant portion of Thackeray’s speech was aimed at targeting Shinde, who led a rebellion in the undivided Sena last year and led to the downfall of the government headed by him. In a chilling warning to rivals, Thackeray, according to news agency PTI, said: “After we come to power, we will hang upside down those who are harassing us.” 

– Thackeray also spoke on the Maratha reservation issue during his speech, as he accused the state government of mishandling the situation.

“Like Jallianwala Bagh, there was lathicharge on Marathas in the Sarati villages. Eknath Shinde’s government is General Dyer’s government,” NDTV quoted Thackeray as saying. He was referring to the lathicharge against the protesters in September, which had drawn flak from several quarters.

– Meanwhile, Shinde, in his annual Dussehra speech at the Azad Maidan, alleged that Thackeray showed greed for power in the aftermath of the 2019 Assembly elections. He wanted to become the chief minister but portrayed as if he has been asked to take over by the alliance partners, he alleged.

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Updated: 24 Oct 2023, 10:31 PM IST

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