Mumbai, October 07: A frail but robust Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Thursday attacked the Congress and Sonia Gandhi, mimicked leaders like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and took potshots at many other leaders, including Anna Hazare, and the judiciary and media.
Addressing the party’s annual Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park late in the evening, the 85-year old Thackeray, imitating the prime minister, said that ‘what Manmohan Singh speaks nobody understands and ditto with Chief Minister Chavan’, who he mimicked.
Referring to the build-up of Chinese troops in Kashmir, Thacekray hit out at Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K. Antony and questioned their abilities to defend the country from within and outside.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also came in for a tongue-lashing for stalling the hanging of Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 parliament attack.
“What was he doing while Kashmir burnt? If I was the PM, I would have sacked his government,” Thackeray declared.
“This country is governed by these ‘unworthy people’. But you (the people) have elected them, so now bear the consequences,” Thackeray rued.
Targetting Sonia Gandhi, Thackeray questioned why she had to go abroad for treatment. “The best of medicos are available in India, but she had no faith in them. What was the need to go abroad for a month when the anti-corruption agitation was at a peak and scams were tumbling out?” he thundered.
Sena chief criticises Hazare too
Focusing on Hazare, Thackeray criticised his anti-corruption campaign, which he had earlier supported through several statements and editorials in the party mouthpiece ‘Saamna’.
“While he was on hunger strike, over 35,000 people were being fed twice daily, even visitors and guests were lavishly hosted at the venue. Anna, corruption cannot be stopped like this,” Thackeray said.
Turning attention to his old friend and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Thackeray said it was he (Pawar) who suggested that the Bandra-Worli SeaLink should be named after the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“I personally laid the foundation stones of the BWSL and Mumbai-Pune Expressway. While one was named after Rajiv Gandhi, the other was named after Y.B.Chavan. Why do you (people) tolerate this, if you have the courage go and throw away the name-plates at these places,” Thackeray said, alleging Pawar suggested Rajiv’s name to ‘please’ his widow who was present there.
Asserting that the city belongs to mill-workers and the Kolis (original fisher-folk of the city), Thackeray warned that anybody who tried to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra, “I will personally take a gun and shoot them!”
Referring to critics questioning his health, Thackeray declared that he was ‘in excellent health’ and was raring to go on a statewide tour.
“I am in excellent health and want to go on a tour of Maharashtra. With my cartoons, I shall rip apart my opponents,” he stated, even as the huge crowd roared its approval.
During his speech he also lashed out at state Home Minister R.R. Patil (referring to him as ‘Charlie Chaplin’ for wearing a formal suit during his trip to UK last month), Industry Minister Narayan Rane for questioning potholes in the city, the judiciary for its restrictions on noise pollution rules at Shivaji Park and the media for criticizing the Sena.