Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday questioned what he termed as the brazen use of money power in elections and accused its ruling ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of doing nothing to stop corruption.
"Look at the blatant use of money power in elections. Never before has such money power been witnessed in India in over 50 years, for winning every election, right from Gram Panchayats to the Lok Sabha," Thackeray said.
Training guns on the BJP, he said they were talking of corruption in the country since past 60 years but had done nothing to tackle it during their four years in power since 2014.
Despite being in the government with the BJP in the Centre and in Maharashtra, the Sena has been extremely critical of its ally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and others and constantly attacked them for claiming they had unleashed a war on corruption
Thackeray's sharp comments came during the course of his annual marathon interview ahead of his 58th birthday on July 27, with party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut.
"Remember the 2G scam? It was blown up not only in India but all over the world. It conveyed a horrible impression depicting India as the most corrupt nation on earth. Nobody realized it, but we ourselves ruined our own country's image. But then, what happened? They failed to prove even a single charge and everything remained mere allegations," Thackeray said.
Despite being in the government with the BJP in the Centre and in Maharashtra, the Sena has been extremely critical of its ally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah and others and constantly attacked them for claiming they had unleashed a war on corruption.
"The present government is not serious about the fight against ... corruption. This is the thought in the people's minds now. Every time somebody does good work, he is accused of corruption and blamed if he doesn't perform. First prove corruption, don't just tarnish people with such allegations. You cannot fling mud at others with one hand and flee with the the lotus in the other," he said sarcastically.
He said the source of all this money used in elections was a mystery and nobody knew from where such huge amounts were flowing down. "Otherwise all other political parties could have also benefitted," he added in a lighter vein.
Asked if people committed a mistake by voting for the BJP in 2014, Thackeray said: "It was actually a fraud played on the people of the country."
To Raut's poser whether Modi's focus still seemed to be on his home state Gujarat, Thackeray retorted: "Is it? I don't think so. I feel now it is more on other countries."
He said there were reports that over 5,000 farmers of Gujarat had sought permission to commit suicide. "Is this your development model? It will destroy many lives."
Thackeray also targeted the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), saying no one was sure where their vote was going.
"This was not case with ballot papers. A democracy purchased with money power is no democracy at all. Its 'thaili-shahi' (purse democracy)," Thackeray declared.