- Sena chief said PM Modi must set a deadline for building the Ram temple
- He also slammed the centre for failing to curb inflation and fuel prices
- The BJP will be voted out of power because of its "lies", he added
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the "delay" in constructing the Ram temple in Ayodhya, and demanded that he either fulfil the long-pending vow or admit that it was just another fake promise. "You go to countries one can't even find in geography textbooks, but why haven't you gone to Ayodhya yet?" he said at the annual Vijaya Dashami rally in Mumbai, adding that he would ask this question to PM Modi on his visit to the holy city on November 25.
Giving an ultimatum to the BJP government, Mr Thackeray said, "Yeh mandir wahin banayenge par taareekh nahi bataayenge (We'll build the temple, but won't set a date) approach won't do... Construct the temple or admit that even this was just another jumla (fake promise)."
Mr Thackeray was the second leader to mention the Ram temple issue on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami on Thursday. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat had said in his annual address that the centre should bring a law to build the temple in Ayodhya because it was "necessary from the point of view of self-esteem".
His statement, however, was swiftly countered by the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) -- the BJP's ally in Bihar -- which voiced its opposition to any such move. Responding to Mr Bhagwat's statement, party leader KC Tyagi suggested that all the parties should wait for the Supreme Court verdict on the issue instead of raising it repeatedly.
Mr Thackeray's criticism of PM Modi wasn't restricted to the Ram temple. In his speech, he accused the BJP of failing on several fronts, such as curbing inflation and ensuring security of women. "(Union Minister) Ravi Shankar Prasad says that neither inflation nor fuel prices are in their control. So I ask them 'What is in your control?' You can't control inflation, you can't ensure the safety of women," he said.
"An avatar of Lord Vishnu is with you, and yet, nothing is in your control," Mr Thackeray said in a caustic reference to PM Modi, who was recently dubbed by Maharashtra BJP spokesperson Avadhut Wagh as the "eleventh avatar of Vishnu".
Despite being an ally, Uddhav Thackeray has been deeply critical of the BJP. His Vijaya Dashami speech was consistent with his rocky relationship with the ruling party.
The Shiv Sena chief also accused the BJP of "lying to the people" in his speech. Referring to a recent statement by the union minister that seemed to suggest that his party had made tall promises for the sake of winning the Maharashtra assembly election, Mr Thackeray said: "Some say it is straight-talking, but I say it is shamelessness. Such shamelessness is not expected from a Maharashtrian."
"We made several promises because we did not expect to come to power. But now that we are in power, people come and ask about those promises. So we just remain silent and get away," Mr Gadkari had told a Marathi television channel, provoking jibes from opposition parties.
Uddhav Thackeray said the BJP could be voted out of power "because of its lies". "The country has become a volcano because of your lies. Once this erupts, you will never be able to come back to power," he said.
He also accused PM Modi of not having a consistent policy on Pakistan. "Their prime minister comes for the swearing-in ceremony of our prime minister. Our prime minister goes there to celebrate the birthday of their prime minister. Is Pakistan a friend when you say it is, and an enemy when you say it is?" he asked, adding that the government was not doing enough to stop cross-border terrorism.