Never dreamt of becoming chief minister: Uddhav Thackeray

PTI
Monday, 3 February 2020

"I was not new to political power as I have seen my father (late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray) wield it since my childhood. What came unexpected was the chair of power (CM's post)," he said. 

Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday said assuming the top post was never his dream or ambition, but when he realised that the promise made to his father could not be fulfilled by staying with the BJP, he decided to accept the bigger responsibility. 

In an interview to Sanjay Raut, the executive editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana', Thackeray said 'Hindutva' to him means honouring the word given by him. 

Asked if he was an'accidental chief minister', the Shiv Sena president said, "May be." 

On aligning with ideologically different parties like the NCP and Congress, Thackeray said such tie-ups were made earlier also, and asserted that the interest of the state and country was bigger than any ideology. 

"I was not new to political power as I have seen my father (late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray) wield it since my childhood. What came unexpected was the chair of power (CM's post)," he said. 

Thackeray said he had decided that he will go to any extent to fulfil the promise made to his father about making a Shiv Sainik chief minister of the state. 

"My becoming chief minister is the first step towards fulfilling the promise made to my father," the 59-year-old Shiv Sena president said.
 
The Shiv Sena snapped ties with its pre-poll ally BJP last year over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post in the state. 

Thackeray earlier claimed that a 50:50 formula was "agreed upon" between himself, the then BJP president Amit Shah and then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ahead of the last year's Lok Sabha polls.
 
In the interview to Raut on Monday, Thackeray said the Shiv Sena chief never accepted the post of power and he also never wished for it.
 
"When I realised that I can't achieve the promise made to my father by staying with the BJP,I had no option but to accept the bigger responsibility," he said. 

Asked if he had shocked people by accepting the post of chief minister of an unlikely coalition, Thackeray said "political shocks are of many kinds". 

"Promises made are supposed to be fulfilled. There is sadness and anger of breaking a promise and then I had no option. I don't know if the BJP has recovered from the shock. What big did I ask...moon or stars? I just reminded them about what was agreed upon before the Lok Sabha elections," he said.
 
On what changed his earlier stand of going alone in the elections, Thackeray said, "When (the then BJP president) Amit Shah paid a visit to me, I felt what is the harm in starting all over again."
 
Thackeray said he went to Gandhinagar and Varanasi when Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed their respective nominations for the Lok Sabha polls last year. 

"I got sandwiched between the elder (Modi) and younger brother (referring to BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis). Making a promise and honoring the word givenis Hindutva for me," he said. 

Asked about aligning with parties of different ideologies, Thackeray said it had happened before and cited the example of the previous BJP-led governments at the Centre. 

"Are the ideologies of BJP and (Lok Janshakti Party leader) Ram Vilas Paswan, (JD(U) president) Nitish Kumar, (Trinamool Congress chief) MamataBanerjee and (TDP head) Chandrababu Naidu same?" he asked. 
"In Kashmir, there was an alliance with the PDP and talks were held with separatists. The interest of the state and country is bigger than ideology," he said.
 
On criticism from the BJP that he compromised on the Shiv Sena's ideology, Thackeray said, "You want to break other parties and induct their prominent leaders. Is the laundry with you only? What's wrong if we align with parties." 

Asked what his mother Meena Thackeray's response on his becoming the chief minister would have been if she was alive, he said, she would have felt 'Oh God, whether he will be able to manage'. 

"But whatever I do, I do it genuinely," he added. 

On being compared to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Thackeray said, "I speak more." 

To a query on him contesting the election, Thackeray, who is not a member of either the state Legislative Assembly or Council, said, "In next two-three months, I will take a decision on contesting polls. Iwill never run away from my responsibilities."
 
Hinting that he may take the Legislative Council route, the chief minister said, "For (getting elected to) Assembly, somebody will have to resign. I will take the decision without hurting anyone."
 
Asked about his experience after becoming the chief minister, Thackeray said he took little time in understanding the "official Marathi language".
 
The chief minister also said his government would work towards resolving the dispute of "Karnataka Occupied Maharashtra".
 
"Maharashtra wants the Marathi-speaking areas on the border adjoining Karnataka to be merged with it (Maharashtra). The matter is in court. But instead of being neutral, the Centre is supporting the Karnataka government," he alleged.  

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