Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and son Aaditya called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his office in national capital Delhi on Friday, Feb 21, 2020. This was Uddhav Thackeray’s second meeting with PM Modi after assuming charge as chief minister, their first in a formal setting.
In a tweet shortly after their meeting, PM Modi’s office and Uddhav Thackeray tweeted photographs. “CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray had a courtesy meeting with the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri @narendramodi ji in Delhi today,” the chief minister’s official handle tweeted.
At a media briefing later, Uddhav Thackeray said he had a fruitful discussion with the prime minister concerning issues about Maharashtra and confirmed that they did discuss the amended citizenship law and the population register.
“There is no need to fear the CAA; this can’t snatch anybody’s citizenship. The Prime Minister has clarified that NRC is not coming. If there are unwanted questions in NPR, there will be problems,” he said.
He further said those who have “instigated” protest against the Citizenship Amendment act need to introspect as there is no plan to bring a nationwide National Register of Citizens and nobody’s citizenship is being snatched.
However, he went a step further on Friday by putting the onus of ending the protests on the “instigators” instead of the government. Asked about the agitations across the country, Uddhav said: “Jin logon ne bhadkaya hai, unko samjhne ki aawshyakata hai.” To a question on who the instigators were, in a Hilarious tone he said: “I don’t live in Delhi. You live in Delhi. You find out who is instigating.”
Most opposition parties, whether in power or not, have unambiguously extended support to the protests organized a few programs to oppose the CAA-NPR-NPC in their respective states.
The top Congress leadership has not only extended support to the protests and hailed the role of students and activists who have risen to save the Constitution but got resolutions passed in Assemblies asking the Centre to withdraw the contentious legislation. TMC Chief Minister in West Bengal is herself organising protest rallies throughout the state and has kept her eyes shut on wide-scale damage of public property by demonstrators. Moreover, they are blaming the Modi government for the stalemate and are accusing it of violent attempts to crush the protests. Even some constituents and friendly parties of the Modi government are singing a different tune.
In this situation stand taken by Uddhav Thackeray is not only heartening for Modi but it stings both Congress and NCP. Uddhav has thus asserted in no uncertain terms that he has understood the reality well and Shiv Sena’s faith in Hindutva and basic philosophy has not changed. He agrees there are differences in the perspectives of the Congress-NCP and the Sena but is keen on preserving his party’s distinct identity without getting into any conflict with its allies.
नमन्ति फलिनो वृक्षा नमन्ति गुणिनो जनाः ।
शुष्ककाष्ठ्ठश्च मूर्खश्च् न नमन्ति कदाचन् ॥
“The branches of a tree laden with fruit bend downward just as the highly cultivated persons bow down out of respect to others. The unwise (foolish), however, are like the dry log that never bends.”
Obviously, Congress leaders are not too happy with some of these positions but they know the pitfalls in working with an ideologically incompatible party. They don’t see any immediate threat to the government in Maharashtra but privately argue that the Sena obviously does not wants to burn its bridges with the BJP. Although NCP chief Sharad Pawar said a few ago that he would talk to Uddhav and try to convince him on key issues.