Maharashtra Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a multi-pronged attack on the BJP opposition in the state assembly on Tuesday, which met for two days in a special session. Shiv Sena’s leader, who touched on several sensitive topics including the issue of Maratha’s quotas, punctuated his speech with stinging attacks – the most acute was his response to the recent BJP jibe that he – a right-wing leader – has become secular. The ally Congress-NCP, while announcing a fund for the conservation of ancient temples, said: “This will make you understand (opposition) that we have not given up Hindutva.”
Mr. Thackeray said the state government will undertake the restoration and conservation of the ancient temples with the aim of “promoting ancient culture and traditions”. He said the project will be undertaken gradually and sought cooperation from the opposition in identifying the temples to be preserved.
A bitter exchange broke out in October between Thackeray and Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari over the reopening of places of worship closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. After the governor, in a sarcastic letter, asked him if he had “become secular”, Uddhav Thackeray replied that he did not need a Hindutva certificate from anyone.
Mr. Thackeray today also responded to opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis’ “undeclared emergency” accusation of police action to prevent Maratha quota activists from entering Mumbai. He referred to the recent action by the Directorate of Law Enforcement against Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik and said: “Asking the ED to go after those who violate privileges against your favorite people is political perversity.”
Mr. Sarnaik had presented the privilege violation notices against television journalist Arnab Goswami and actress Kangana Ranaut to the assembly chairman’s office in September.
“Pratap (Sarnaik) was called by the ED. His children were called by the ED. His grandson is not born yet or they too would be summoned by the ED. They may have said as soon as the grandson is born bring the baby before us, ”Thackeray said.
Mr. Thackeray also mocked Mr. Fadnavis and other leaders of the state BJP, saying they should be in Delhi to address the farmers’ protests.
On the BJP’s attacks on his government’s response to Covid, Thackeray said, “The WHO, The Washington Post praised the work of the Maharashtra government in containing the pandemic in Dharavi. It’s sad that you (BJP) can’t see it.” .
Mr. Thackeray assured the assembly that the current OBC stake will remain intact and that attempts to create a social divide by spreading rumors about Marathas’ inclusion in the reserve category will not be tolerated.
“The legal battle to (restore) the Maratha quota is in the final round. We have neither changed the legal team nor our position on the Maratha quota. We will win the legal battle,” he said.