In a sharpest offensive on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said while the Centre clamped an abrupt lockdown in March year and asked people to clang thalis, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) state government provided full meals at affordable rates to the poor, needy and migrants during the pandemic crisis.
“When people were being told to bang empty plates, we provided the hungry millions with full ‘thalis’ (plateful of meals) in that time of distress and the scheme still continues,” Thackeray said, in his reply to the motion of thanks on the address of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
In his speech, Koshyari had lauded the government’s Shiv Bhojan Yojana launched on Jan. 26, 2020, and over 3.15 crore thalis at Rs.5/plate have been served till now.
Costing the government around Rs.125-crore, the daily consumption of the affordable meals shot up from just 18K initially to 138K, the governor noted on Monday (March 1).
Thackeray recalled how he had called up the PM after the sudden lockdown was declared in the country and later the MVA government helped transport lakhs of stranded migrants safely to their home states all over India.
“In fact, after they reached homes in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, the migrants first expressed gratitude to us for making all the arrangements,” the CM said.
Thackeray also slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre on the issue of the farmers’ agitation raging outside Delhi and the skirmishes on the India-China borders.
“You could put nails on roads (to quell the farmers’ protest) and prevented them from entering the capital of the sovereign country, but you beat a retreat against China” Thackeray said sharply.
However, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis attacked the CM for raising irrelevant issues in the House and said Thackeray had insulted Indian soldiers on the borders.
“Not an inch of (India’s) territory has gone. Our soldiers defended the Chinese aggressions under extreme circumstances.. Yet you make such insulting statements against them (soldiers),” Fadnavis said, accusing the CM of making misleading statements.
Taking a dig at Fadnavis, who had proclaimed in 2019 – ‘Mee Punha Yaeen’ (I Will Return – as CM) – Thackeray said even the Coronavirus had threatened to come again – “And, unfortunately, it has returned.”
Training guns on the BJP for alleging scams and demanding financials of the Covid-19 hospitals, the CM retorted by saying that nobody can seek the accounts of the PM Care Fund.
“They won’t reply, however much you ask… Nobody even dares to ask now because they will be slapped with sedition charges or probed by investigation agencies. This is the kind of democracy in the country today,” Thackeray said pointedly.
Calling upon the BJP to discard its lies, he said that Home Minister Amit Shah blatantly went back on his assurance made at Matoshree (regarding sharing the post of CM with the Sena), “but strangely, the BJP leaders made the then CM (Fadnavis) to sit outside”.
On the renaming of the Motera Stadium in Gujarat after the PM, Thackeray said: “India will not lose any cricket matches now as the stadium name has been change. We have named the (Mumbai) airport after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, but they (BJP) changed Sardar Patel Stadium’s name.”
Thackeray assured that the MVA government will definitely rename Aurangabad city as ‘Sambhaji Nagar’, but rued that the Centre is still sitting on the rechristening of Aurangabad Airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar Airport.
Touching on the Hindutva row, the Shiv Sena chief pointed out that despite two reminders, the BJP at the Centre has not yet conferred the Bharat Ratna on Swatantryaveer Vishnu D. Savarkar and said: “We don’t need Hindutva lessons from you”.
He said when the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was razed, it was by the late Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s brave ‘Shiv Sainiks’ as all the others had fled from there – which Fadnavis dismissively countered, by claiming that “there was not a single Shiv Sainik present at that time there.”
Thackeray slammed the BJP at the Centre and state on various other issues including the Mumbai Metro pending carshed proposal at Kanjurmarg, the investments in Gujarat vis-à-vis Maharashtra, the manner in which the MVA ably handed the Covid crises, etc.