Mumbai, Jan 23: Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray Thursday led a pledge to “grab power” along with the National Democratic Alliance in the 2014 elections and said the country’s next prime minister will be from its ally, the BJP.
“This is the last time that a Congress prime minister will speak from the Red Fort on Republic Day,” Thackeray said, making a factual error since the prime minister addresses the nation on Independence Day, and not Republic Day.
At the Somaiya Grounds in eastern Mumbai, Thackeray pledged to the gathering that the NDA will “grab power” in both the Lok Sabha and Maharashtra assembly elections.
Alleging that Manmohan Singh “is the weakest prime minister ever”, Thackeray urged Shiv Sainiks “to throw out the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party” alliance from power in the Maharashtra elections scheduled for 2014-end.
Thursday was also the 88th birth anniversary of late Shiv Sena founder-patriarch Bal Thackeray, which was celebrated as “Pledge Day” by the party.
Uddhav Thackeray announced the day will be celebrated in future too.
The pledge was in the form of a speech by Bal Thackeray a few years ago in which he expressed his dream to see the party’s saffron flag unfurled over Mantralaya, the administrative headquarters of the state government, and wanted the party to return to power after it led a government in 1995.
A party helpline for the public, a woman’s safety mobile application, a Marathi mobile dictionary, an application of famous speeches by Bal Thackeray, a women’s self-help group and the Shriman Balasaheb Thackeray IAS Academy were also launched on the occasion.
The Shiv Sena rally was held exactly a month after its ally BJP’s rally Dec 22. Since the Shiv Sena was not invited for the Dec 22 rally, the party also kept its ally from from its show Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Congress and NCP pounced on Uddhav Thackeray’s factual error, saying the Shiv Sena chief was committing such blunders under the influence of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre and NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik issued separate statements pointing out the mistake.
Thakre said the Shiv Sena was bereft of any political agenda and has been pushed to the fourth position under Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership.
At the event, Uddhav Thackeray also revived the party’s Hindutva agenda by saying he was proud to be a Hindu.
“Is it a crime to say that there are Hindus in Hindustan?” he asked.
Criticising Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Thackeray said his rule was akin to “the operation being successful and the patient dying”.
“In the Adarsh Society scam, he nailed the officials while the politicians were let off,” Thackeray said.
The day also happened to be the silver jubilee of party mouthpiece “Saamana”, which was launched, edited and nurtured by Bal Thackeray for over 23 years till his death in November 2012.
The mouthpiece was founded Jan 23, 1988, out of Thackeray’s desire to speak for the common Maharashtrians and fight for their rights.
Over the years, it came to be feared in political circles for its no-holds-barred edits on various issues.
Six huge gates were erected for entry to the ground and eight giant 70-foot LCD screens put in place. The stage was specially decorated with gigantic party flags and a life-size statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji astride an elephant in a procession.