Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has admitted that there is barely any communication between him and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah.
“No, there is no dialogue between us,” Thackeray said tersely in the third and concluding instalment of his three-part marathon annual interview ahead of his birthday on July 27, published in the party mouthpiece Saamana, on Saturday.
Shiv Sena is the second biggest ally of the BJP in the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The two parties ruled Maharashtra from 1995-1999 and have had a political alliance for the last 25 years, barring a three-month ‘break’ in late 2014.
The Sena chief said he remains at home, but does meet Shah when he visits New Delhi — hinting at the past when all top BJP leaders including former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and the late Pramod Mahajan were regulars at the Thackeray home ‘Matoshree’ in Bandra.
“Last time, he had phoned me and I had gone for his son’s wedding,” he said, apparently clarifying that his personal relations with Shah remain cordial and there was no complete breakdown.
In this context, he declined to reply to the interviewer, Saamana executive editor Sanjay Raut’s query whether the Sena was taken into confidence before forming the alliance government in Maharashtra — “The curtains have been drawn on that episode… I don’t want to rake it up again.”
Thackeray, however, said that in the BJP he enjoys an excellent rapport with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, describing him as “the top party leader in the state after all”.
On the perceived grouse of the Sena ministers in the state cabinet at being doled out ‘insignificant’ portfolios, Thackeray said “every department/ministry is important, it all depends on the person handling it”.
He castigated Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar for his remarks that if the Sena had any dignity it would walk out of the state alliance.
“They want the government to collapse soon, so then (they) can join it… I am not going to dislodge the government for them,” Thackeray asserted.
He also made it clear that the legendary ‘remote control’ once wielded on the state government by his father, the late Bal Thackeray, during the Shiv Sena-BJP government from 1995-1999, was now in the hands of the people of the state.
“I am not so great to wield that remote control… That remote control is now handled by the people… I am happy if some people feel it’s in my hands, but it will be utilised only for the benefit of the state. Till it continues to work for the masses, the state government need not fear the remote control,” Thackeray assured.
In the final part of the interview, Thackeray touched upon the issue of vegetarianism versus non-vegetarianism in the state, the Bangladeshi migrants who have developed deep roots here and warned against any move by the BJP to shift trade and commerce out of Mumbai.
He also flayed Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s invitation to the Mumbai corporates to shift to her state as there is ‘nothing’ left in Maharashtra, expressed displeasure over the delay in constructing a monument to his father (the late Bal Thackeray) and other issues.