Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray delivered a scathing critique of the ruling NDA government at the state and central levels during his speech at the Shiv Sena’s traditional Dussehra rally, held at the iconic Shivaji Park in Dadar.
In his address, Thackeray highlighted several issues, including demands for quotas, Marathi pride, corruption, and Hindutva. He criticized the government for urging the reopening of temples during the Covid pandemic while emphasizing that the Shiv Sena stands for Marathi pride alongside its commitment to Hinduism.
Thackeray expressed dissatisfaction with the appointment of a “real-estate developer” as the guardian minister of Mumbai and criticized the awarding of Dharavi’s redevelopment project to an associate of those in power.
He also challenged the government to address these issues through elections, suggesting that they were afraid and deliberately delaying University senate elections.
Discussing quota demands raised by various communities, Thackeray voiced support for activist Manoj Jarange-Patil, who led the Maratha agitation. Thackeray emphasized that the Maratha reservation issue could only be resolved in the Lok Sabha and expressed disappointment over the government’s inaction during a special session of Parliament.
This year’s Dussehra rally held significance as it was the first one after the Shiv Sena (UBT) lost both its name ‘Shiv Sena’ and the bow-and-arrow election symbol. Thackeray made symbolic references to the situation, comparing it to the story of Ravan and the abduction of Seeta.
He declared the party now has the ‘mashaal’ (torch) and urged supporters to “burn down the ‘Khokasur'” – an indirect reference to the breakaway Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Thackeray criticized the BJP for sowing division among the people to divert attention from pressing issues like inflation and unemployment.
Sena UBT MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut, in his speech preceding Thackeray’s, criticized the state and central governments for corruption. He raised questions about the commitment to fighting corruption and cited a recent speech by Union Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the hanging of corrupt politicians.
The rally serves as a platform for the Shiv Sena to voice its concerns, assert its regional identity, and connect with its supporters on important political issues.