By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Jul 27 (IANS): Shiv Sena President and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday warned that democracy in India is at peril owing to the "monstrous ambitions" of the Bharatiya Janata Party to control everything.
"A conspiracy to eliminate all the opposition and regional parties in the country is going on in full swing... The ruling party (BJP) is scared of the opposition. It indicates their inefficiency," said Thackeray, in the concluding part of a marathon "birthday interview" to Sanjay Raut, Executive Editor of the Sena mouthpieces "Saamana" and "Dopahar Ka Saamana" newspapers.
He pointed out that democracy does not mean winning (elections) everytime, be it any party - Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP, BJP, etc - nobody gets consecutive victories, all have to win or lose, new parties keep emerging, shine for some time - "that is a real democracy".
However, the gargantuan aspirations (of the BJP) of keeping everything under their heels coupled with whatever they say is right, makes them apprehensive of the opposition, he said.
Recalling the late Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's refrain - "Power comes and goes, but the country should remain", Thackeray said: "I was the CM yesterday, I am not today and am sitting in front of you... What's the difference? Power comes and goes... and returns, but it doesn't matter to me."
He emphasised the need for all political parties to unite and work for the country, or they shall be labelled as "enemies" of our nation, as there are stupendous problems like inflation, unemployment, etc, that confront the people.
Thackeray took a swipe at the BJP-government on how various central investigation agencies are harassing the Opposition, arresting their leaders first and framing the charges later, "defaming them in a dirty and perverted manner intended to ruin their careers".
Referring to BJP leader and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's statement that his party was like a "washing machine" which makes people facing allegations "virtuous", Thackeray said this is not really the sign of a strong ruler, but one in fear.
To Raut's query on how to overcome such oppression, Thackeray said that first all should have a desire to get out of it, as people did during the Emergency and united to form the Janata Party.
At that time, he said the Janata Party (1975-1977) did not even have election agents at polling booths, yet people of all classes voted for them overwhelmingly, and the party came to power.
"Later, due to infighting, the Janata Party government toppled itself. So, there must be a strong will to fight unitedly. Presently, the symptoms are not good and it seems the country is heading towards dictatorship, this is the opinion of many," cautioned Thackeray.
He said the Shiv Sena is willing, but it cannot go alone and all the states of the country must join together for the struggle which will "awaken" the people, and without making too many enemies, must ensure healthy politics.
In this context, Thackeray mentioned the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress's Maha Vikas Aghadi, and termed it as "a successful experiment, and supported by the masses".
"The MVA was not wrong. The people have welcomed it. Many in the state cried when I left 'Varsha' (the CM's official residence, on June 22). I will not allow those tears go in vain," he said.
The Sena leader rued how the very same people (Eknath Shinde) who were opposed to joining hands with the BJP in 2014 have now allied with that party, and called him "a power-hungry" person.
Thackeray said he had offered Shinde the post of CM, after discussing with the NCP-Congress provided he could get some replies from the BJP, "but he had no guts".
He again challenged the Shinde-Fadnavis government for elections and predicted that the "state will again get a Shiv Sena CM".