Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray criticises GST, demonetisation; says alliance with BJP was to 'unify' Hindu votes

The Shiv Sena chief was speaking at his annual Dusshera rally in Mumbai's Shivaji Park

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Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray criticises GST, demonetisation; says alliance with BJP was to 'unify' Hindu votes
Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray during his Dusshera speech at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Saturday

Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray in his annual Dusshera rally address on Saturday criticised the Narendra Modi-led BJP government over issues such as GST, demonetization, and patriotism.

In his speech, Thackeray said that the only reason the Shiv Sena had continued its alliance with the BJP was to unite the Hindu vote.

“We allied with BJP for Hindutva when the word Hindutva was taboo; if they (BJP) thinks we are of no use to them, we'll see,” the Shiv Sena chief said.

Thackeray also raked up issues such as Goods and Service Tax, demonetization, the BJP alliance with the PDP in Jammu & Kashmir, the alliance with Nitish Kumar in Bihar, petrol prices, and the railway stampede that killed 23 people in Mumbai’s Elphinstone Road station on Friday.

“In Kashmir, what ideological bond do you (BJP) share with PDP? You’re okay with Nitish Kumar, who has abused  you in the past; Mehbooba Mufti has threatened you. But when it comes to the Shiv Sena, you always seem to have a problem,” Thackeray said.

Slamming the Central government on its alliance with the PDP, the Shiv Sena chief even dared the BJP to abolish Article 370 that accords special status to the state.

The Sena chief also hit out at demonetization, GST and the fuel hike. Defending last week's protests where the Shiv Sena held rallies in different pockets of Mumbai, Thackeray said that even Pakistan's petrol prices were lower than India's. "Government says GST brings uniform taxation. Where is the uniformity? Even Pakistan has cheaper petrol than us," he said.

Speaking against November 2016’s move of demonetizing old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, Thackeray said that an atmosphere was created where those who favoured demonetization were patriots and those who opposed were anti-national.

Thackeray also urged the government to improve the overall railway infrastructure of the country before embarking on ‘overambitious’ projects such as launching a Bullet Train.

Earlier there were speculations that Thackeray would announce his split from the alliance, but a morning editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna quashed that assumption. The editorial said that while the Sena disagreed with the BJP, it would continue the alliance for the benefit of the people.

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