MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi frittered away the huge mandate he had won in 2014 and spent the last five years in changing names of the schemes that were launched by the previous Congress regime.
Addressing a gathering of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai, Thackeray referred to a recent statement from the US which stated that all the F-16 jets in Pakistani fleet were accounted for, contrary to the Indian government’s claim that one intruding jet was shot down after the Balakot aerial strike.
“Why did PM Modi lie on this? He should answer that. Modi had got such a rare opportunity, as the BJP had won the majority vote in 2014, 30 years after (late PM) Rajiv Gandhi secured such a huge mandate. What did you do in five years?” Thackeray questioned.
He also drew a parallel between the “acche din” promise and a similar slogan given by the then US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1940s and by German dictator Adolf Hitler.
Apparently referring to BJP veteran L K Advani, the MNS chief said people spend their entire life wishing to be the prime minister, but Modi, “who won the majority by a fluke”, kept “lying” to people all these years”.
“In the last five years, the prime minister has not held even a single press conference. Why is he scared to face journalists and answer their questions? He could have done so much,” he said.
The MNS chief further said that the importance of Congress is realised only when the party is not in power. “What (Congress president) Rahul Gandhi has said is right. PM Modi has taught us a lot. We abused the Congress when it is in power,” he said.
Thackeray, who used to praise Modi when he used to be chief minister of Gujarat before turning his fierce critic, also clarified his position. “People ask me why did I support the PM earlier and now I criticise him. My explanation is that since the man (Modi) has changed so did my stand,” he said.
“Traits of Modi and Hitler are similar. The then US president Franklin Roosevelt had also said that good days would come. Even Hitler had said the same. And now Modi is also talking about ‘acche din’,” he said.
Further attacking the Prime Minister, Thackeray said even when he goes to meet his old mother once a year during her birthday, he takes press photographers along. “What is this? My mother lives with me. Should I also start taking cameras when I go to meet her in the next room?” he quipped.
“Modi could have done wonders in the country because he had a majority government. He, however, only changed the names of the schemes implemented by the Congress,” Thackeray said.
He named schemes like the National Girl Child Day programme and Rajiv Awas Yojana to stress his point.
Slamming Amit Shah over his statement that 250 terrorists were killed in the Balakot air strike in February this year, the MNS chief wondered how did the BJP president know that exact number.
“Was he (Shah) sitting in the back of the IAF plane? Even IAF chief had said that the exact numbers were not available. Had even ten terrorists been killed, Pakistan would not have released Wing Commander Abhinandan (Varthaman) from its custody,” he said.
Wing Commander Varthaman was captured after his MiG-21 Bison went down during a dogfight with an intruding F-16 jet after the Balakot strike. Thackeray further said if Modi returns to power again, holding of elections will stop and democratic rights will be taken away.