Uddhav’s roar at MVA mega-rally: ‘Learn from Israel how to save democracy’

Congress Legislative Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat said that calling anybody 'chor' (thief) is now a crime and the country has witnessed what happened to Rahul Gandhi.

Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar: Echoing the Opposition’s apprehensions, former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena (UBT) President Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday cited the example of Israel on how to protect democracy from authoritarianism in India.

“Look at Israel! How the people there have taken to the streets to protest against certain laws there… even the police joined the demonstrations and Israeli embassies all over the world shut down in solidarity with the people there. After it became impossible for their leader (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), the laws were withdrawn,” Thackeray said.

Addressing a mammoth rally of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), Thackeray lauded the people of Israel and asserted that “this is called democracy, unlike India where anybody who speaks against the government is targeted in different ways”, and the Constitution of the country is being trampled upon.

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“It’s heartening to note that democracy is still strong in India… the farmers’ protests (2020-2021) saw the (Bharatiya Janata Party) government finally withdrawing the farm laws. Even the workers of the country are very much alert,” said Thackeray in a veiled warning.

He cautioned that those who try to trample the Constitution of Bharat Mata “will be kicked out”, and said the MVA will do everything to protect democracy in the country.

Thackeray lamented how his (original) Shiv Sena had erred for 25 years with the BJP, and nothing was done though the two parties came together in power twice (1995-1999 and 2014-2019), and gave examples of the major decisions of the MVA government of Shiv Sena (UBT)-Congress-Nationalist Congress Party did during its two-and-half years in office before it was unceremoniously toppled in June 2022.

Hammering at the BJP as ‘the most corrupt party’, the former chief minister said its name should be changed to ‘Bhrasht Jana Party’, since wherever they see any corrupt leaders, “they grab them”, but teach others lessons in public morality, as the massive gathering roared its approval more than half-dozen times during his speech.

Thackeray attacked the BJP on its brand of ‘Hindutva’, how Hindus feel insecure and are compelled to take out ‘Hindu Janakrosh Yatra’ though ruled by “the most powerful Hindu leader in the world, but his power means nothing”, and joining hands with any party irrespective of ideologies to bring down duly elected governments for grabbing power as in Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, and Bihar.

NCP’s Leader of Opposition Ajit Pawar demanded to know what the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and BJP’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have done for the youth, unemployed, farmers, or problems like inflation.

“Ever since this government took over, industries are fleeing from Maharashtra, the political atmosphere is vitiated and big projects are not ready to come here. This will be very damaging for the state’s economy and youth who will be deprived of jobs,” warned Pawar.

On the Shiv Sena-BJP’s ‘Savarkar Gaurav Yatra’ taken out in the state on Sunday to protest against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s utterances, Pawar pointedly asked that when the ex-governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and many other BJP leaders insulted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Mahatma Jyotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule, no action was taken, and how the Supreme Court recently labelled the state government as ‘impotent’.

“You only talk and do nothing. You are taking out ‘Savarkar Gaurav Yatras’, if you have the guts, then announce the Bharat Ratna immediately for Swatantryaveer Savarkar,” dared Pawar.

Congress Legislative Party Leader Balasaheb Thorat said that calling anybody ‘chor’ (thief) is now a crime and the country has witnessed what happened to Rahul Gandhi.

“He was not allowed to speak in Parliament as he was raising issues of corruption, even (Congress President) Mallikarjun was denied permission to speak, and even if they spoke, their speech records were erased. The people are watching everything. The latest opinion polls suggest that MVA will get 38 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra,” said Thorat.

Taking pot-shots at the Central government, NCP senior leader Dhananjay Munde said that the BJP is simply playing a “fraud’ on the masses and it’s an “April Fool government”. He said that April 1 (All Fools Day) should be celebrated as the BJP’s birthday.

He also slammed the BJP for misusing the central investigation agencies like ED, CBI or I-T to scare and silence the Opposition but declared that “the people will not sit quiet now”.

Congress’ ex-CM Ashok Chavan said the manner in which the Shinde-Fadnavis regime grabbed power by breaking the Shiv Sena MLAs was “unprecedented in the state’s history” and will not be tolerated by the people here.

“Its not just about the MVA government, but a question of preserving democracy. The state is reeling under multiple crises, has piled up a debt burden of Rs 7 lakh crore, but they are busy in propaganda and wasting money on ‘yatras’ now,” said Chavan.

He also lauded Thackeray terming him as a humble leader who took decisions on merits in public interest without any bias on party lines, and called upon the people not to forget the treatment meted out to Rahul Gandhi in the next elections.

Elaborating on Israel, Thackeray said that Netanhayu, who is a friend of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attempted to control that country’s judiciary, and said “similar efforts are on by the BJP to undermine the justice system in India, and we must be on our guard”.

“Democracy will end the day the judiciary goes down. In Israel, Netanyahu took back the laws due to public anger. The people vote, and the people should also keep a watch on the PM. We have the power to defend the Constitution,” said Thackeray.

This was the first mega-public meeting of MVA after it lost power nine months ago and various leaders vowed that many more similar rallies would be held in the coming days, sounding the bugle for the upcoming civic polls, and next year’s Lok Sabha and Maharashtra Assembly elections.

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