Mumbai: As part of ongoing efforts to bolster the Opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal met Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai on Monday. During their meeting, the two leaders agreed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah were sabotaging the democracy in the country and there was a need for all opposition parties to fight unitedly against this dictatorship.
Venugopal arrived in the metropolis in the evening and met the Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray for more than half an hour, after which both leaders addressed a press conference. “We have witnessed how democracy has been sabotaged by PM Modi and Amit Shah. All the opposition parties have a general consensus to fight together against the dictatorship of PM Modi. The Congress is in full solidarity with the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena (UBT). We are all in agreement that we have to fight these forces (BJP) together,” he said.
कॉंग्रेसचे सरचिटणीस, खासदार के. सी. वेणुगोपाळ यांनी आज मातोश्री निवासस्थानी पक्षप्रमुख मा. श्री. उद्धवसाहेब ठाकरे यांची भेट घेतली. यावेळी खासदार संजय राऊत, काँग्रेस नेते बाळासाहेब थोरात, महाराष्ट्र काँग्रेस अध्यक्ष नाना पटोले, मुंबई काँग्रेस अध्यक्ष भाई जगताप, मुंबई काँग्रेस… pic.twitter.com/52Q0Ssbm7P
— ShivSena – शिवसेना Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray (@ShivSenaUBT_) April 17, 2023
During the previous Parliamentary session, all Opposition parties were meeting for a common strategy under the leadership of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Venugopal said. “It was the government side that was disrupting proceedings in Parliament. We only sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe on the Adani issue. They (BJP) did not want this, hence, resorted to disturbing proceedings,” he said.
Venugopal also stated that the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate were targeting opposition parties, especially the Shiv Sena (UBT). The Congress leader said that there was a feeling among all opposition parties for a broader unity, which is why Kharge and Rahul Gandhi met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Tejashwi Yadav as well as NCP supremo Sharad Pawar.
“There are some differences among political parties. They have their own ideologies but the country is facing a bigger issue. This type of atmosphere (under the Modi government) has never been witnessed before,” Venugopal claimed.
Speaking on his discussion with Thackeray, the Congress leader said it was a fruitful one where a lot of issues were deliberated upon. “Hum saath hain (we are together) is the message we want to give,” he added. “I have requested Uddhavji to come to Delhi to meet Soniaji. Then Rahul Gandhi will also definitely visit Mumbai,” he said in response to a media query.
Speaking at the press conference, Thackeray, without naming PM Modi, used terms like “man-eater” and “power-hungry” for the current dispensation at the Centre. “I don’t think it is wrong to use such terminology against them (BJP-led Union government). Only one person is considered important. The Shiv Sena is in the arena with all its strength,” the former Maharashtra chief minister said.
“We were with them (BJP) for 25 years but they have forgotten this friendship. We (Shiv Sena) are a party that lives up to friendship. We treat it like a relation,” he said. On BJP national president JP Nadda’s recent comments in Mumbai that there won’t be any other party left in the country, Thackeray said, “He may have said it unintentionally but it is something we have to oppose. The Sena will fight for democracy.”
Thackeray said that his party had spoken to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, adding that the (Lok Sabha) elections are not even a year away. The Shiv Sena (UBT), Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party make up the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which was in power in Maharashtra till June last year.
A rebellion by Eknath Shinde led to a split in the Sena. Shinde went on to become chief minister with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party.