Jalgaon (Maharashtra) [India], Feb 16 (ANI): Targetting the Opposition amid speculation of "Operation Lotus" in the state in April this year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday challenged BJP to pull down the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government if they can.
The MVA is a coalition of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress that formed government in November last year.
"We (NCP-Sena-Congress) have come together with an aim to bring development for the common man. Since we have assumed office, the BJP has been constantly criticising us. The BJP leaders have been claiming that our coalition will not last long and that they would return to power. But the fact is that we stand united with a strong government," said Thackeray at a farmers' rally in Muktai Nagar, Jalgaon, in the presence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
"If you (BJP) are thinking about toppling our MVA government then I challenge you to pull it down today. I Balasaheb Thackeray's son and I would like to accept the challenge," he said.
Thackeray's response comes amid his ongoing spat with BJP in the backdrop of resentment within the MVA over the Chief Minister's decision to not oppose the Centre's move to hand over the Elgar Parishad probe to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Even Pawar and Congress's Maharashtra in-charge Mallikarjun Kharge have criticised Thackeray over the decision to allow probe by NIA in the matter.
Grabbing the opportunity, BJP has hit out at the ruling coalition and said that there will be "mid-term" polls in the state.
Without naming senior BJP leader Eknath Khadse, who said that the "ruling alliance in Maharashtra is set to break", Thackeray said: "Muktainagar, the hometown of Khadse, has become mukt (free) today. Everyone here knows who the town has become free from."
Muktainagar has been considered a stronghold of Khadse. However, BJP had denied him a ticket in the last Assembly polls in the state and instead fielded his daughter Rohini from Muktainagar, who suffered a humiliating defeat against an independent candidate Chandrakant Nimba Patil.
Maharashtra Chief Minister further assured farmers of better schemes and said: "The Shiv Sena had promised to clear the farmers' debts before coming to power. We will launch two more schemes for farmers and separate schemes for those farmers who regularly return their loans. In the next few days, the government will soon take concrete decisions about how to provide electricity and water for farmers in the daytime and how to make them completely debt-free."
On the occasion, the Sena chief described Sharad Pawar as a "competent guide". "The blessings of the people and a competent guide is with me, so all good things will be done," he said.
Meanwhile, Pawar said, "There is a need to put in efforts to improve the living conditions of farmers in the state. Also, the Centre should extend its support to the state to implement special schemes for farmers." (ANI)