By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Oct 24 (IANS) Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena President Eknath Shinde on Tuesday bowed and vowed before a portrait of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to give reservations to the Maratha community, and fight for justice to them “till the last drop of blood” in his body.
In an emotional moment while addressing his second Dassehra Rally at Azad Maidan late this evening, Shinde cut short his speech, walked to the other end of the state and with folded hands and bowed head made the solemn commitment for quotas.
“I am also a Maratha and I have struggled very hard for the community all my life. I take the oath before Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj that quotas for the Marathas will be given without disturbing the reservations for any other groups… All are our people and no injustice will be done to any community. I urge the Maratha youth not to resort to any desperate (suicide) measures,” he said.
Attacking the Shiv Sena-UBT, Shinde said that he belonged to a poor farmer family and struggled all his life to reach this position today, endured caning and even went to jail.
“How many cases you have against you, how many times you have taken caning? Those who claim to be heirs to Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy must first examine their conduct… They are not a ‘dena’ (give) bank, but a ‘lena’ (take) bank. I have not hankered for power and I continue to function as an ordinary worker, I go to Davos (Switzerland) for business or inspect drains and public toilets in slums…” said Shinde.
On the contrary, the CM alleged that Uddhav Thackeray coveted the post of CM since 2004 and for this he had sent two emissaries to meet Sharad Pawar to become the CM, and betrayed the Hindutva cause of Balasaheb Thackeray.
“For us, Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideals are our principles but how many times you have compromised them for money and power. Tomorrow, it won’t be surprising if his party (Shiv Sena-UBT) merges with the Congress, or joins hands with the AIMIM, or with the Hamas, Hizbul and Lashkar-e-Taiba… They don’t care about the common Shiv Sainiks, they are concerned only with their family,” he claimed.
The CM targeted Thackeray for pushing behind the state in terms of investments, and claimed that in just one year, “along with (Deputy CMs) Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar” Maharashtra has catapulted to the top slot in FDI, development is happening briskly on all fronts, and wherever he travels, “the people are happy with the progress”.
Shinde called upon the people to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 elections by giving at least 45 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra to the BJP. “Modi is fulfilling the dreams of Balasaheb Thackeray like repealing Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir or constructing the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya… I have done the work of saving the Shiv Sena which was mortgaged with the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (SP),” declared Shinde.
Responding to Thackeray’s criticism on delinking Mumbai from Maharashtra, Shinde asserted that “till I am alive, nobody’s father will dare to do this”.
Recounting the alleged scams of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government especially during the c coronavirus pandemic, Shinde said that “you were at home busy counting money… you ate up the ‘khichdi’ money and the oxygen funds”, and warned that the people of Maharashtra will teach them a lesson for their sins.
“Uddhav Thackeray had no great achievements, that is why Anand Dighe (former Thane strongman) had praised Raj Thackeray in a meeting… And for this Dighe was humiliated, and I have witnessed it myself. After that appreciation of Raj Thackeray, the work of clipping Dighe’ wings started,” he claimed.
On the decision to hold the rally at Azad Maidan, Shinde said that as the CM, he would have easily conducted the meeting at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park, also known as ‘Shiv Tirth’. “However, we opted for Azad Maidan to avoid any law and order problems and for us wherever we carry forward the vision of Balasaheb Thackeray becomes our ‘Shiv Tirth’. We shall always hold our future rallies at this venue,” he said.