Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday launched a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party and its brand of Hindutva, called for a national debate on federalism, sympathised with the farmers, and lavished praise on his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee.
Addressing the annual Shiv Sena Dussehra Rally, held virtually without break since 1966, Thackeray called for an honest discussion on Centre-State relations as the country marks the 75th anniversary of India's Independence.
He said that the Indian Constitution framed by Dr B.R. Ambedkar has laid down clear guidelines on the rights of the Centre and states, with autonomy to the latter, along with sovereign rights like the Centre.
"In the current scenario, the question arises whether the Centre will allow the states to survive... In their thirst for power, they keep harassing the non-BJP-ruled states, try to topple their governments. The Constitution says if the Centre interferes in the state's affairs, it would be unconstitutional," Thackeray declared.
Dwelling on BJP's pet theme, Thackeray said that Hindutva is under risk from those who used it as ladder to climb to power - a pointed reference to an exclusive report on this issue by IANS on September 20.
"There was a recent RTI reply in which the Centre said there is no threat to Hindutva. But Hindutva faces a threat from the 'neo-Hindus' propped up by the BJP. They will drive a wedge in society and adopt the British strategy of 'divide and rule' to grab power. We must be on our guard always," he stressed.
Touching on the recent fracas of Veer Savarkar raised by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, he said people who have no connections or participated in the freedom struggle are talking about Mahatma Gandhi and Savarkar.
"The people who are spreading lies about these personalities, are not even worthy of uttering the names of Gandhiji and Savarkar," he said.
Referring to 'Lal, Bal, and Pal' (Lala Lajpat Rai of Punjab, Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra and Bipin Chandra Pal of Bengal), he said even now these three states are at the forefront of the fight against the BJP.
"I compliment Mamata Didi for not bowing before the Delhi rulers and West Bengal fulfilled its duty... Maharashtra is the same, we will not bend before Delhi. They shout 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Vande Mataram' at the slightest opportunity. Now, we will show them what 'Har Har Mahadev' really means," Thackeray roared.
Hammering the BJP for constantly targeting the Maharashtra government after the Sena joined hands with Nationalist Congress Party-Congress in November 2019, he said the Shiv Sainiks and the people of the state will not tolerate it.
"They are hounding us and even our families through the probe agencies like IT, ED, CBI. We are not scared They are trying to break and topple our government - I challenge them to bring us down they will not succeed," the CM asserted.
He said that he had become the Chief Minister to fulfil a promise made to his father, and the Shiv Sena founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray, and he was not some 'fakir' to run away with his 'jhola' from responsibilities to the people.
Taking strong umbrage at the BJP for comparing the Maharashtra Police with the mafia, he demanded then what is the Uttar Pradesh Police, or the police force of other BJP-ruled states.
Patting the Maharashtra Police, Thackeray said the state cops are like the soldiers on the borders - "they fight fiercely without bothering for their lives they proved it during the 1992-1993 riots and bomb blasts, the 26/11 terror strikes and at all other times".
At several points in his 40-minute speech, there was applause, cheers and whistles of approval from the audience inside the Shanmukhananda Hall in Matunga.