Uddhav Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra, on Monday once again questioned the Narendra Modi government’s Rafale jet deal with France, asking why a company which had no experience was given a contract. Addressing a congregation of religious leaders in the temple town of Pandharpur in Maharashtra, Thackeray said: “Soldiers of our country need a pay hike which you don't give, but you do scams in the purchase of arms and ammunition.” The Shiv Sena president added with several scams going on in the country, it seems that "chowkidars have become thieves" - a direct takeaway from Congress slogan.
The Congress has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal and attacking the government for procuring just 36 jets when IAF required 126 jets. On December 14, the Supreme Court said it had found nothing wrong with a deal the Narendra Modi government signed with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it had studied the matter "extensively" and that it was "satisfied that there is no occasion to doubt the process [of signing the Rafale deal]." The ruling came on four petitions that had asked the Supreme Court to set up a court-monitored probe into the signing of the Rafale deal. The petitions had alleged that the Modi government not only overpaid for the Rafale jets but also promoted crony capitalism.
Thackeray also slammed the government for the delay in the construction of a Ram Temple on the disputed land in Ayodhya. “It has been been 30 years and still you say that matter is in the court. Hindus are innocent but not fools. Let there be a discussion in Parliament on the Ram temple issue, who are in your favour on this issue among the NDA will be clear,” he said.
With the catch-phrase "Vithunamacha Jaijaikar, Pahele Mandir, Phir Sarkar" (praise lord Vitthal, first (Ram) temple, then government), the Sena had asked all its 227 Shakhas (local offices) in Mumbai and its units elsewhere to mobilise crowds for the rally, a party leader said.
It is part of Sena's strategy to promote Thackeray as a true Hindutva leader, he added.
Around 30,000 Sena supporters from Mumbai attended the rally, while another one lakh supporters reached from rest of the state.
Thackeray had last month visited Varanasi and Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, and addressed a `Dharma Sabha' of religious leaders in Ayodhya.
Thackeray had earlier said the Modi government was sleeping like “Kumbhakarna” on the Ram Mandir issue.