Saamna, the Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece, on Friday praised the reign of the Congress over the last six decades and contrasted it with the regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At the same time, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray warned the BJP that the outcome of the upcoming BMC elections would change the face of politics in Maharashtra.
In an editorial which sent shock waves through the BJP, the Sena mouthpiece lauded Indira Gandhi for splitting Pakistan into two in the 1971 war and Rajiv Gandhi for ushering India into the telecommunication age in the 1990s.
“Even if we accept that the Congress committed some petty theft, the fact remains that the party led the country on the path of economic and industrial progress…At the time of Independence, India couldn’t even manufacture a needle…What changes has Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought about in the country with all the brute majority he enjoys in the Lok Sabha is the key question,” Saamna said and slammed Modi for his “raincoat” barb at former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The attack on the BJP by its estranged ally in Maharashtra comes ahead of polls to Mumbai’s municipal corporation, the civic body with the biggest budget in the country, and Sena’s traditional citadel. In a no-holds-barred campaign, the BJP has urged the city to rid BMC of the Shiv Sena’s corrupt ways; the latter has responded by putting the Fadnavis-led regime “on notice” and slamming the Centre for misgovernance on a range of issues, including demonetisation.
Lavishing praise on Congress leaders at Modi’s expense, however, takes the acrimony to a new low.
“Indira Gandhi may have rejected the Wanchoo panel’s recommendation on demonetisation, but her courage was India’s armour. Her decision to nationalise major banks and scrap princes’ purses helped strengthen economy…moreover, she sent military tanks to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to put an end to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale,” said the Sena morninger.
Saamna said within 24 hours of the assassination of Ravindra Mhatre, India’s diplomat in the UK, by a terrorist group, Indira Gandhi ordered the execution of Kashmiri terrorist Maqbool Bhat. “Indiraji told the world in no uncertain terms that she would not yield to terrorism. Indira Gandhi laid down her life for the country,” said Saamna.
Saamna also paid handsome compliments to Rajiv Gandhi for laying the foundation for the information technology era. The Bofors scandal may have blotted his copybook, but Rajiv was determined to give a clean administration to the country, it said.
Heaping more praise on Congress PMs, Saamna said both P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh strove hard to revive India’s economy during a critical phase. “If all this wasn’t done (by Modi’s Congress predecessors) then the PM would have been left to rule a banana state such as Rwanda and Somalia,” Saamna added.
In a Q&A session with the Times of India on Friday, party chief Uddhav Thackeray also accused BJP of reducing Mumbai’s strategic importance in a bid to clip the Sena’s wings.
“There are plans to take Union government offices out of Mumbai…Similarly, trade and commerce too is being shifted elsewhere,” said Thackeray, adding, “They know very well that Sena’s strength stems from Mumbai. So the strategy is to scuttle Mumbai’s power and importance.”