Modi plays it safe, avoids attacking Sena

Says it's a 'tribute' to Bal Thackeray

Modi plays it safe, avoids attacking Sena

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday declared that he “will not utter a single word” against the Shiv Sena as a tribute to its founder, the late Bal Thackeray, apparently indicating a post-poll alliance with the BJP’s erstwhile ally. 

In the three rallies Modi addressed on the second day of his campaigning in poll-bound Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar came under heavy attack. Modi asked voters to banish forever the “corrupt” NCP and the Congress from the state politics, accusing the erstwhile alliance partners of looting the people for 15 years.

However, notwithstanding the bitter parting, Modi said he would not utter a single word against the Shiv Sena. “Political pundits are asking why Modi is not criticising the Shiv Sena. This is the first election in the absence of the late Bal Thackeray, for whom I have great respect. I have decided not to utter a single word against the Shiv Sena. This is my tribute to Balasaheb Thackeray,” he said.

“There are some things which are above politics. There are feelings. Not everything should be linked to politics,” Modi said at Tasgaon in Sangli district of western Maharashtra. His remarks came hours after Shiv Sena leader Aditya Thackeray attacked the BJP, accusing it of “backstabbing” Bal Thackeray by snapping ties with his party over seat sharing.

Modi’s barbs were directed at Pawar during the rallies at Tasgaon, Kolhapur, considered as NCP strongholds, and Gondia in Vidarbha region. “I am amazed. Pawar was the Union agriculture minister. But in his Maharashtra, around 3,700 farmers commit suicide every year,” he said.

He said the NCP leader failed to imbibe any of the qualities of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Shiv Sena’s biggest icon for the Maratha pride plank. “But as agriculture minister at the Centre, had you implemented Shivaji’s water management techniques, farmers of Maharashtra would not have committed suicide,” he said at Tasgaon.

Pawar had attacked the BJP saying that the people who had termed Shivaji a “looter” were invoking him to seek votes. Replying to this, Modi said: “Stop challenging our ‘Shiv bhakti’. You speak of Shivaji. It was the Vajpayee government which named Mumbai airport after Shivaji. You were chief minister but did not think of it. Even Victoria Terminus was named Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus by the Vajpayee government.”

At Gondia, Modi claimed that inflation rate had come down for the first time in five years and cited reduction in petrol and diesel prices as important work done by his government.

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