INDIA will Protect the Motherland from Autocracy, Safeguard Constitution, Says Uddhav Thackeray

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MUMBAI – The third national Opposition parties conclave host ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the upcoming two-day INDIA bloc will fight to protect the motherland from autocracy, and safeguard freedom and democracy, here on Wednesday. 

Addressing a joint media briefing, the Shiv Sena (UBT) President said that the country is under threat from totalitarianism and needs ‘raksha’ (protection). 

“We are here against dictatorship and to protect India. We pledge not to allow a dictatorial regime to return to power again. We shall strive to safeguard the Constitution and not disrupt the federal democratic structure,” declared Thackeray. 

Slamming the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre, the Sena (UBT) leader said that the country needs a government that ensures the rights of women and cited the example of Manipur. 

“The Central government is on gas… that’s why after nine years, they are giving a gift to the womenfolk by slashing the price of domestic cooking gas cylinders. As INDIA marches ahead some more, they will start giving gas free to all. Public sab jaanti hai (people can understand),” said Thackeray, taking a swipe at the government. 

To questions on who would be projected as the INDIA bloc Prime Ministerial candidate, Thackeray countered: “We have several choices here, but does the BJP have any choice apart from (PM) Narendra Modi?” 

Responding to a query on who would be the INDIA bloc convenor, Thackeray shot back: “Can you tell us who is the convenor of the NDA? It has become like an amoeba with no shape or size.” 

He attacked the BJP for asking Muslim women to tie rakhis and said that this Rakshabandhan should be dedicated to protect the Motherland, and not allow her to be chained by an authoritarian regime. 

Referring to the recent NITI Aayog moves, Thackeray alleged that “the conspiracy to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra has now been exposed”. 

“They didn’t dare make any such proposal when the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was in power but we shall not allow it any cost and fight it,” said Thackeray. 

Setting the tone for the INDIA meet, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar said that “the people of the country want a change”, for which the Opposition leaders are gathering this week. 

He also dropped hints of the possibility of discussing the prickly issue of seat-sharing for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections by the National Opposition parties. 

Pawar said the first two INDIA alliance meetings were very critical and now the joint strategy of the Opposition block to counter the BJP is likely to be discussed and finalised, while a panel of senior leaders may be formed and tasked with the seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls at the state and local levels. 

Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole pointed out how China has captured Indian territories in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh, and the Opposition will now protect the country from foreign aggression. 

“As the INDIA alliance grows stronger and marches ahead, China will retreat from the Indian territories. INDIA will protect and secure India,” declared Patole. 

Maharashtra ex-Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said that as many as 11 CMs and 63 leaders of 28 opposition political parties have participated in the Mumbai conclave, up from 26 which had attended in July in Bengaluru. 

Chavan flayed the BJP for indulging in the politics of breaking parties and toppling elected state governments which they did in Madhya Pradesh, Goa, and then even in Maharashtra, but the Opposition remains firm and strong, and will not be cowed by such threats. 

Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut said that “Mumbai is immersed in the INDIA mood” for the conclave that will be attended by at least 28 parties over the next two days. 

Some of the major parties which have confirmed participation include: Shiv Sena (UBT) which is hosting the bloc meeting, Indian National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar), Samajwadi Party, National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Janata Dal (U), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal, All India Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Peasants & Workers Party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), and the Indian Union Muslim League, according to the organisers. -IANS

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