Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday, 23 January, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the Hindutva ideology for the sake of power.
"Shiv Sena had aligned with BJP as it wanted power for Hindutva. Sena never used Hindutva for the sake of power," he said while virtually addressing Shiv Sena members on the 96th birth anniversary of the party founder and his father, Bal Thackeray.
Thackeray said the Shiv Sena had left the BJP and not Hindutva, adding that BJP's opportunistic Hindutva was only for power.
Thackeray also said that the 25 years the Shiv Sena spent with the BJP as an ally were wasted.
"BJP doesn't mean Hindutva. I stand by my comment that Shiv Sena had wasted 25 years in alliance with BJP," he said.
'We Were Betrayed, Attempts Were Made To Destroy Us'
The Shiv Sena had a fallout with the BJP after the 2019 Maharashtra elections and went on to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress.
"We supported the BJP wholeheartedly to enable them to fulfil their national ambitions. The understanding was they will go national while we will lead in Maharashtra. But we were betrayed, and attempts were made to destroy us in our home. So, we had to hit back," he said, justifying his decision to align with the NCP and Congress.
Adding that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had shrunk after Akali Dal and Shiv Sena walked out of the bloc, he alleged that the BJP uses and dumps its allies as per its political convenience.
Thackeray said the Shiv Sena should expand beyond Maharashtra and aim to capture Delhi.
"I have accepted the challenge given by Union home minister Amit Shah that Shiv Sena should contest elections on its own," Thackeray said.
He also hit out at Maharashtra BJP leaders for attacking him over his health.
'Took BJP From Bottom to Top in Maharashtra': Sanjay Raut
Commenting on Uddhav Thackeray's comments, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said they took the BJP from bottom to top in Maharashtra.
"After Babri, there was a Shiv Sena wave in northern India. If we had fought polls at that time, there would have been our PM in country but we left it for them. BJP only uses Hindutva for power," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Meanwhile, NCP leader Nawab Malik, too, targeted the BJP and said it wasn't right to have hatred towards other religions.
"It is a fact that the parties that made an alliance with BJP, were gradually destroyed by them. It's good to take pride in one's religion, but it is not right to have hatred towards other religions," he said.
'Used To Be No. 1 or 2, Now at No. 4': BJP's Fadnavis Attacks Shiv Sena
Reacting to Uddhav Thackeray and Sanjay Raut's comments, former Maharashtra CM and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis verbally attacked the Shiv Sena and said:
"I want to remind them that their party was not born at a time when BJP corporator was there in Mumbai. Till the time they were with us, they used to be number 1 or no 2 party but now they are at number 4," he was quoted as saying by ANI.
He also challenged the party to get a post tweeted for Balasaheb Thackeray from Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi "with whom they are sitting."
"You only gave speeches during the Ram Mandir movement, we were the ones who faced bullets and sticks," he added.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve said that Shiv Sena was behaving the exact opposite of what Balasaheb had preached.
"Shiv Sena cited Savarakar during campaign speeches in Dombivali. Is this a Hindutva party?... Today Uddhav Thackery is behaving the exact opposite of what Bala Saheb preached. He has joined anti-Hindutva parties in greed of power," he said.
(With inputs from ANI.)