Mumbai: Launching a fierce attack on old ally BJP, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday announced breaking of their 25-year-old alliance for the upcoming civic elections across Maharashtra.
"We shall not go around with a begging bowl. We have wasted 25 years in this alliance. But no more. Shiv Sena will contest all the civic body elections independently and will not have an alliance with them (BJP) henceforth," thundered Thackeray at a party workers' rally in suburban Goregaon in the evening.
The move came after a stinging speech in which he criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with which the party is in alliance in Maharashtra and the centre, and directly targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BJP did not spare even Mahatma Gandhi and removed his pictures from the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) diaries and calendars for this year, he said, referring to the use of pictures of Modi instead.
"They (the BJP) are talking of Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh. But now, they must be prepared for 'He Ram' (annihilation) there," he said.
The move to sever the alliance was greeted with cheers and a thunderous applause, and party workers chanted to Thackeray's call for fighting the ensuing elections separately.
Attacking Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for his recent order banning all kinds of religious activities and poojas in all government offices and institutions, Thackeray demanded that it should be withdrawn.
"How can they unilaterally take such a decision? Did you take us into confidence? Was it discussed before the state cabinet or even with the leaders of opposition parties? The order must be withdrawn or we will make a bonfire of it," he said.
Referring to entry of persons with allegedly criminal background into the BJP fold, he said "even Shiv Sena could rope in some goons, but all (goondas) are headed towards BJP only."
Comparing BJP to a bull which has run amok, he said the time has come to tame it, he said before declaring the break-up of their political partnership.
"I have full confidence in my Shiv Sainiks... With their help, we shall fly the saffron flag in Maharashtra independently," he said.
Since past few days, talks between the two parties have been faltering with the BJP state unit making it clear that the party was "prepared to fight alone" if the alliance with Shiv Sena fails to materialise.
Reacting quickly to the development, Shiv Sainiks broke into impromptu celebrations in several parts of Mumbai and Thane and raised slogans supporting the move.