Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray hit out at the central government over a corruption investigation against a leader of his Shiv Sena and threw a challenge and a warning at former ally BJP. He also raged at the backlash over his government’s move to reopen a suicide abetment case against Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami and the criticism by BJP leaders and Union Ministers.
“If you come after families and children, then remember you have families and children too. You are not clean. We know how to set you straight, roast you,” the Chief Minister said in an interview to his party’s mouthpiece Saamana, to mark one year of the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition that he formed with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and the Congress.
The Shiv Sena has accused the BJP of using central agencies for political vendetta. Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik and his son Vihang Sarnaik are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate over allegations of money laundering. Pratap Sarnaik made headlines recently when he demanded a reinvestigation into the 2018 suicide of architect Anvay Naik, who allegedly named Arnab Goswami and two others in his note.
Anvay Naik, who reportedly designed the Republic TV sets, accused Mr Goswami and other channel officials of denying him his dues. Mr Goswami was arrested earlier this month. He was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court, which today extended the reprieve. The top court had earlier said it “would be a travesty of justice if personal liberty was curtailed.”
In the Saamana Q and A, Sena leader Sanjay Raut asked Uddhav Thackeray: “A Marathi businessman died in suspicious circumstances. Shouldn’t there be a probe?”
The Chief Minister replied: “This makes us angry. In Maharashtra, the Marathi Manus will not stand up for his rights, they will not do business, outsiders will come, they will trap them, they will dance on their chest. And if someone dies by suicide and he writes a note about it about someone, we are not supposed to inquire about it? We will sweep it under the carpet and if we reinvestigate the you will use the ED against them? You will bury a Marathi and dance over him? And we have to suffer that in front of our eyes?”
He went on: “You indulge in a cycle of revenge. We will use the Sudarshan Chakra… Do politics if you want. But if you misuse power to create roadblocks for us, remember power is not yours permanently. In the past we know what happened. There were cases against you too. Remember how the Shiv Sena Supremo (Bal Thackeray) saved you. If you remember this even a little bit, then you know times can change. Power is not just about the chair. The public is power. They are with us.”
The Shiv Sena broke up with long-time ally BJP last year following a dispute over power-sharing after the two won the Maharashtra election. The Sena then tied up with the ideologically opposite NCP and Congress. Over the past year, the friction between the former partners has worsened.
The BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis, former Chief Minister, has dared the Sena to send a list of “120 BJP leaders” to the Enforcement Directorate as its senior leader Sanjay Raut had threatened. “I had dared Raut to send the list. Today he said that he will send the list. We are waiting for it,” Mr Fadnavis said on Wednesday.