Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said that because of the BJP, the country had to face an embarrassing situation at the international level as it was “brought to its knees and was forced to apologise” by the Gulf countries over the controversial remarks made by a BJP spokesperson on Prophet Mohammad.
Addressing a rally, his first outside Mumbai after his spine surgery in November last year, Mr Thackeray also attacked the BJP saying that while inflation is on the rise and the rupee is on a downward slide, there is a concern to find under which mosque there is a Shivling.
He also slammed the Centre over the recent targeted killings in Kashmir, and said instead of harassing the leaders of Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) through the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), raids should be conducted there.
On the controversial comments made by former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for the comments made against Prophet Mohammad, he said, “The Middle East and the Arab countries brought our country to its knees and forced to apologise. What led to this? India has to apologise. What has the country done? It is the BJP and its spokespersons that have committed the crime.”
“The words spoken by the BJP spokesperson or BJP cannot be the stand of India on any issue. The words of BJP spokesperson used (for Prophet Mohammad) tarnished India’s image at the International level. It damaged the image of my country and not that of the BJP,” he said.
“There are political differences between us (Shiv Sena and BJP), but he (Narendra Modi) is our country’s prime minister. His photo was stuck on garbage bins (in some country) and we keep seeing it. But why should the country apologise for it when the mistake is done by BJP and its spokesperson,” Mr Thackeray added.
The BJP on Sunday suspended Nupur Sharma and expelled its Delhi unit media head Naveen Kumar Jindal after a row over their alleged derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammad escalated with protests from some Muslim countries.
Ms Sharma’s comments, made in a TV debate nearly recently, and Mr Jindal’s now-deleted tweets sparked a Twitter trend calling for a boycott of Indian products in some Gulf countries.
“I want to ask RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat whether he had expected this kind of behaviour of BJP seen today,” Mr Thackeray said.
During his speech, he targeted the BJP over various issues ranging from Hindutva to inflation and the controversial statements made by BJP spokespersons.
“Inflation is rising, rupee is declining, but our worry is Shivling lying beneath which mosque, what is under the Taj Mahal, what is under the Gyanvapi masjid,” he said at a rally that was attended by the top leaders of the party.
“What have we done to say that we have deserted Hindutva. Let’s debate what Shiv Sena has done for Hindutva and BJP has done for it,” he said.
He said had his father late Sena founder Bal Thackeray not taken the responsibility and said that if the Shiv Sainiks had demolished Babri he was proud of it, or had he not backed Kashmiri Pandits and “roared” when Amarnath Yatra was under attack, then would BJP have risen to power in the name of Hindutva. Asserting that the Sena was not “hollow Hindutvavdi” to take lessons of Hindutva from the BJP, Mr Thackeray recalled that during the Ayodhya movement, there was slogan ‘Whoever who thinks about the welfare of Hindus will rule the country’ and asked whether the BJP which is in power thinking about the welfare of Hindus.
He also welcomed the statements made by RSS chief, who said that there was no need to find Shivling in every mosque.
He also attacked Independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi Rana, who were arrested in April after they insisted on reciting Hanuman Chalisa outside Mr Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’.
“If you have the guts then go to Kashmir and recite Hanuman Chalisa. Our Hindutva is not of impotent. If you are a man, then protect the Kashmir Pandits. If you have the guts then go there,” he said.
“It makes one angry that the Kashmiri Pandits are leaving the Valley and no one is ready to speak for them. Did any single spokesperson of BJP speak on this issue,” he asked.
“BJP never saw Hindu festivals while doing agitations or doing Bharat Bandh because they indulged in politics alone. But late Shiv Sena supremo never did this. Earlier when petrol prices went up even by seven paise, former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee once went to Parliament in a bullock cart. We are looking for that BJP today,” he said.
Targeting senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis for his remark that while he was there when the Babri structure was pulled down in Ayodhya, nobody from the Shiv Sena was present there.
“Sena earlier was speaking to make a special law and construct Ram mandir. But you didn’t show that courage. Judgement came from the court, so the Ram Mandir (in Ayodhya) is being erected, that too with people’s money,” Mr Thackeray said.
With inputs from NDTV