MNS chief Raj Thackeray Thursday criticised BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for only speaking about his own state, and asked him to adopt a national outlook. The BJP hit back, saying nobody needs to advise Modi on what he should do.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) founder-president Thackeray also hit out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), saying nobody was aware who were its leaders in Maharashtra.
He sought power for his own party to bring about change in his state.
Targeting Modi, Thackeray urged the Gujarat chief minister to discard narrow parochial interests and adopt a broad, national outlook.
“Wherever he travels, Modi keeps harping on Gujarat and its qualities. A prime minister belongs to the whole country and not to any particular state. Modi must keep this in mind and treat all states as equals,” Thackeray said.
“In fact, after he was nominated as the BJP’s PM candidate, he should have immediately quit as Gujarat chief minister,” Thackeray told media persons here at the start of a four-day pre-election preparatory tour.
Asked about the crowds attracted by Modi, Thackeray shot back that if that was the criterion for popularity, “even my meetings attract large gatherings”.
On Modi’s oft-repeated theme on Gujarat’s development, Thackeray said Maharashtra was ahead of Gujarat on all fronts.
However, he admitted that in terms of administration, Gujarat was ahead of Maharashtra and the people of Maharashtra were fed up with the existing state of affairs.
The BJP reacted sharply to Raj Thackeray’s demand that Modi should have quit as Gujarat chief minister after he was nominated as prime ministerial candidate.
“Nobody needs to advise Modi on what he should do. It is nobody’s business,” BJP state president Devendra Fadnavis said.
Meanwhile, on the Aam Aadmi Party, Thackeray said it was true that the country needs a change but the Arvind Kejriwal-led party has no base in Maharashtra, and nobody was aware who its leaders are in the state.
“There is a chant of AAP, AAP all over the country. However, I have been raising similar issues since the past six years. For bringing about a change, we need power. Vote us to power and I promise you a clean government,” Thackeray urged people
He said he would fulfil his commitment if voted to power and there is no need for the AAP in Maharashtra.
“We are the ‘baap’ (father) here, we don’t need AAP,” Thackeray said.
The MNS is a potential challenger to the existing alliances of Congress-Nationalist Congress Party, the BJP-Shiv Sena-Republican Party of India (Athawale)-Swabhimani Paksha, and other smaller parties like Samajwadi Party besides regional outfits in the state.
State BJP president Fadnavis rejected Thackeray’s demand, and said Modi can take his own decision when to resign or not as chief minister.
Since Modi was doing his duties as chief minister efficiently, there was no need for him to quit, he said.
Fadnavis said some people were feeling “sidelined” and “dwarfed” because of Modi’s growing stature across the country, with huge crowds at his meetings and that was why they made such statements.
On Thackeray’s “baap” statement, the Nationalist Congress Party said it was the “Mai” (mother) of all parties in Maharashtra.
“A father (baap) cannot claim legitimacy of his kids, but a Mai (mother) can,” NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik said in a sarcastic reference to Thackeray’s comments.
AAP state leader Anjali Damania advised Thackeray to build and strengthen his own party instead of crying foul over other parties.
“Baap or AAP, the coming elections will decide, and everybody should mind their own business instead of talking about others,” Damania said.