Mumbai: Days after Shiv Sena's 25-year-old alliance with BJP snapped in the run-up to October 15 Assembly elections, party chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday raised "Marathi pride" as its main poll plank claiming that BJP had decided to break the alliance beforehand.
Addressing his first rally here tonight after the bitter break-up between the alliance partners on Thursday, Uddhav said he was not hankering after the chief minister's post.
"...But if you are going to challenge me, I will show you that I will contest in your stronghold and become chief minister," he said. Uddhav said that as Sena chief he tried till end to save the alliance.
"I apologise to Maharashtra. It was not Uddhav Thackeray who broke the alliance. I tried till the end to save the alliance," he said.
Refuting reports that he had denied existence of "Modi wave", Uddhav said the reality has changed now. "I never said there was no Modi wave. But today, the reality is different. If there was really a wave, why were there reverses in recent bypolls," he said.
Asking party workers not to remain under the "illusion" of Modi wave, Uddhav said, "the Lok Sabha polls is history. Keep your feet on ground."
Blaming BJP for breaking the "Hindutva" bond, Uddhav said that he had even expressed willingness to exchange some seats as they wanted. "BJP wanted much more seats than we could give. Sena is not a godown. They had decided beforehand to break the alliance," he said.
"You (BJP) have broken the Hindutva bond. The country will not forgive you," he said, adding "When Maharashtra was looking at us with hope, you (BJP) have axed your own foot."
Uddhav said that he did not have any quarrel with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that his party indeed supported the BJP stalwart. "But even after giving such support, if you (BJP) are going to behave like this, I will show whom the people support," he said.
"If you say I broke the alliance for CM post, I want to say: I broke it for CM post. But let me know, were you seeking more seats for playing marbles in Mantralaya," the Sena chief said.
Uddhav reiterated how his father and Sena supremo (late) Bal Thackeray had thrown his weight behind Modi who was chief minister of Gujarat when the Godhra riots broke out.
"When Atalji (former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) spoke of 'rajdharma' after Godhra riots, and there was clamour for Modi's ouster as Gujarat CM, it was Balasaheb Thackeray who advised Advani against his removal. I am a witness to this," he said.
Balasaheb also asked me to go to Gujarat to give support to Modi who was on fast for Narmada dam, he said.
"When we gave you the country, why did you not have the generosity to hand over Maharashtra to us," Uddhav said, apparently referring to BJP's demand for more number of seats to contest in Maharashtra.
"We had tolerated enough in 25 years and we were even now ready to tolerate more. It is Maharashtra's good fortune that BJP ended the relationship," he said.
"I am not happy that the alliance ended. I recall Pramodji, Atalji and Advaniji and also Gopinath Munde. I don't know whose misfortune it is that there is no leader of Munde's stature (in BJP) now," he said.
Appealing to the party workers to give decisive mandate to Sena, Uddhav said, "Sena is not a cat but a tiger... Let us not rest till there is a Sena chief minister in Maharashtra."
Explaining the turn of events culminating in the break-up, Uddhav said, "BJP leader Eknath Khadse phoned me on Thursday and informed me (about) the BJP core committee decision."
"There were media reports that Sena is now left alone. The shiv sainiks will show what a wave is and whose Maharashtra it is," he said.
Invoking mythology, Uddhav said, "I pray to goddess Jagdamba to give strength to my Shiv Sainiks to slay the Mahishasur."
On Sena's Hindutva agenda, he said that "Sena is a proponent of Hindutva. We haven't left Hindutva. When Mumbai was burning during riots, shiv sainiks came to rescue of all, irrespective of which community people belonged to," he said.