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Thackeray taunts Kalam on Afzal hanging
February 03, 2007 20:00 IST
Last Updated: February 03, 2007 20:55 IST
Fresh from his party's win in the Mumbai civic polls, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday stuck to his controversial statement on President A P J Abdul Kalam, saying he had not maintained the dignity of his position by sitting on Afzal Guru's clemency petition.
"What is wrong with what I have said about Kalam? I was after all a caricaturist once and if I comment on his long hair there is nothing out of the ordinary.
"We have also voted for him to become President. I have nothing against him personally," said Thackeray, who made a rare appearance before the media, a day after his party won the Mumbai civic body.
Noting that the President's actions did not reflect his esteemed position, Thackeray said Kalam was a leading scientist of the country but had lost the dignity of the post after he became President.
"Afzal was sentenced to death by the highest court in this country in October and yet the file has been sitting on the President's table for the past four months. Has such a thing ever happened before?" Thackeray told reporters amid loud cheers by gathered Shiv Sainiks.
Flanked on either side by son Uddhav and senior leader Manohar Joshi, Thackeray answered a flurry of questions from the media with his trademark wit and sarcasm.
Thackeray said: "I am stunned over the victory of Shiv Sena in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections. The credit of this victory should go to executive president Udhav Thackeray and his team of leaders."
Reiterating the party's Hindutva agenda, he said, "We have several states in the country, all of them divided by linguistic barriers. But it is time that they all came together with the magic word of Hindutva, because only Hindutva can contain the growing network of Islam."
When asked whether the victory in Mumbai's civic polls was a vote to save Mumbai, he said, "Yes it is. Our election campaign, the editorials in 'Saamna', caused the Marathi man to awaken. He was angry at the attempts to separate Mumbai from Maharashtra and that is why he voted for us."
Crediting the victory to the hard work put in by staunch loyal Shiv Sainiks like Manohar Joshi, Subhash Desai and others, the Sena supremo was at his acerbic best when asked whether the exits of Raj Thackeray and Narayan Rane had affected the party.
"Do you think we would have unfurled the saffron flag on the BMC had we been affected? When you buy a new shoe, it will give you a bite for a few days, but that does not mean you discard it," he said to loud cheers from gathered Sainiks.
Dressed in saffron robes, and looking decidedly frail, Thackeray also had a go at the media accusing them of twisting his comments. "These channels have a bad habit of taking everything I say in the opposite sense, that is why I keep away from the media."
The Sena's headquarters in Dadar was a riot of colour as scores of Sainiks carrying flowers, sweets, and saffron flags thronged the building, even spilling on to the street outside hoping to catch a glimpse of the Sena chief.
As Thackeray made his way to the hall, where he was to address the media and meet newly-elected corporators, workers began shouting slogans and there was the echo of drums and shehnais in the air.Thackeray rarely makes public appearances these days owing mainly to his frail health, preferring to meet select people at his suburban bungalow "Matoshree".