Thackeray-KCR meet: The fightback begins

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray hosted Telangana CM K Chandrasekar Rao at his official residence in Mumbai on Sunday. The two also held a joint presser before KCR's meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar

Thackeray-KCR meet: The fightback begins

Sujata Anandan

This could be the kick-starting of a grand alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Not known for a previous rapport, Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray met today over lunch at the latter's residence and set themselves on a course that could alter the future of the nation once again.

Now declaring themselves brothers-in-arms, they pulled no punches as they took on the BJP openly declaring they will no longer stand for the misuse of central agencies against opposition parties, creating disharmony among people, framing and fixing rivals and generally rendering the atmosphere in the country unpalatable.

“This is not what Hindutva means. This is not Chhatrapati Shivaji’s Hinduism. Hindutva does not mean the politics of revenge,” said Thackeray who, of late, has been attempting to redefine the Shiv Sena's Hindutva as all-encompassing, non-violent and distinct from the BJP's Hindutva.

Rao made no bones about stating that if the BJP did not reverse its policies of vengeance and misuse of central agencies, “they will have to face the consequences" in the coming days.

Clearly, it is a fightback against the Centre as Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut had alleged only last week at a press conference that the BJP had threatened to “fix" him if he did not help to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

He claimed that the fightback not only had the sanction of his top leadership but also that of Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar (who also met Rao today) and several top Congress leaders.

That all other parties are joining the fightback is obvious from the fact that Rao, known to be earlier inimical to the Congress (he had called for a non-Congress opposition front) swiftly squashed questions about the same and, without contradicting himself, said this was the first step in their unity and they would go region-by-region, state-by-state and party-by-party, “one step at a time", until the entire unity is achieved.

Some days ago Rao had backed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who had demanded proof of the Uri surgical strike from the central government on the third anniversary of the Pulwama massacre.

When Gandhi was criticised for the same, Rao said, “What is wrong with asking for proof? There is nothing wrong in Rahul Gandhi asking for proof. Even I am asking for the same. There are apprehensions among the people about the BJP's mis-propaganda. So let them show the proof. In a democracy you cannot be a monarch.”

Obviously, the camel's back has broken as the BJP seems to have gone one step too far in intimidating other parties and they are now saying “enough is enough".

Rao indicated that the second such gathering will be held at Hyderabad in a few weeks and Thackeray cautioned the media against misrepresenting the case.

“We have kept nothing from you about our talks. We need not have informed you about all this and fobbed you off with just a comment that this was just a priti bhoj (friendly meal). But we have been upfront and made our intentions clear. We will not stand for any nonsense any longer and the nation cannot be destroyed in this manner.”

Clearly the fear factor is over. How the fightback shapes up remains to be seen.

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