Centre Should Have Consulted State On Koregaon-Bhima Probe: Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the decision on Ram temple was according to law of the land and Constitution.

Centre Should Have Consulted State On Koregaon-Bhima Probe: Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray accused the BJP of "betraying" him. (File)

Mumbai:

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today criticised the Centre's decision to transfer probe into the 2018 Koregaon Bhima violence case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) without taking the state government into confidence.

In the third and concluding part of his interview to Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana', Mr Thackeray also accused the BJP of "betraying" him and said his "hindutva" ideology was different from that the BJP as he did not want an unstable "Hindu Rashtra" where governments are toppled and there is communal tension.

To a question, he said the (Supreme Court) decision on Ram temple was according to the Constitution. He also said the future of his Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, comprising the Sena, NCP and Congress,was "good".

NCP chief Sharad Pawar was the MVA government's "guide" and not remote controlling it, he said, adding that he will visit Delhi soon to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Referring to the Koregaon Bhima violence case, Mr Thackeray said the Centre has all rights to step into the probe, but it should have taken the state government into confidence before handing over the investigation to NIA.

"I was surprised by the Centre's decision. Doesn't the Centre trust the state's investigating agencies. Due to such incidents, there is a problem in Centre-state relations," he said.

The Maharashtra Chief Minister said the probe in the case was handed over to NIA when Pawar was demanding an inquiry into it by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

"The Centre must have felt what is going on in our mind. It could have asked us what are we planning to do. Sharad Pawar expressed his views on the probe. Did we take any decision? The Centre should have sought information from us. It should have asked Pawar why he feels the case should be probed again," he said.

The chief minister said he had spoken to Mr Pawar and the latter wanted a "free and fair" probe in the case.

Violence had broken out near Koregaon-Bhima war memorial in Pune district on January 1, 2018. The case was earlier being probed by the Pune Police, which claimed that provocative speeches at Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, led to the violence, and Maoists were behing the conclave.

Mr Thackeray said his "hindutva" (ideology) was different from that of former ally BJP.

"I don't want an unstable Hindu Rashtra where governments are toppled and where there is communal tension. The Shiv Sena's hindutva remains the same... but that doesn't come in between government functioning," he said.

He also said the decision on Ram temple was according to law of the land and Constitution.

Asked about Congress leader Ashok Chavan's statement that the Shiv Sena gave in writing that the MVA government will function according to the Constitution, the chief minister said not just his party, but the Congress and NCP have also given that in writing.

"That is called the 'Common Minimum Programme'. The programme includes 'thali' (one-plate meal) for the poor at Rs 10, health check up for Re one and farm loan waiver," he said.

He also rejected criticism that the Shiv Sena had surrendered to the Congress and NCP. "What is surrender? Has the Congress given up its secularism? I have also not given up hindutva. But, we are focusing on governance within the constitutional frame work," he said.

On his government being called a "khichdi sarkar", Mr Thackeray said, "So what...the poor need 'khichdi'. Nobody gives them biryani."

Asked about Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Thackeray said he is a good colleague who has "knowledge of issues".

"Even Ashok Chavan is very cooperative. We fought elections against each other and criticised each other. But, now we are working together," he added.

Ajit Pawar rebelled against his party NCP last year and joined hands with the BJP to form a short-lived government led by Devendra Fadnavis. The NCP leader was then sworn in as deputy chief minister, but he soon resigned, leading to collapse of the BJP government.

"I am the chief of my party. Sharad Pawar gives suggestions. He is experienced and I get guidance. The government is not remote controlled by him," Mr Thackrey said.

He also said the MVA government has a bright future and he sees no problem in the alliance continuing for long. "All the three parties have understood each other's limitations. If we do well within our limits, we can achieve our goal," he said.