MUMBAI: Launching a scathing attack on the BJP-led NDA government, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today called for opposition unity and a "Modi-mukt Bharat" by 2019.
Addressing party workers at a rally at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai, Thackeray said, "The country is fed up with the false promises made by Narendra Modi and his government."
All opposition parties should come together to get rid of the BJP-led NDA government to ensure "Modi-mukt Bharat", he said, reminding the audience of BJP's "Congress-mukt Bharat" slogan.
"India got its first Independence in 1947, second in 1977 (after the post-Emergency elections), and 2019 can bring a third Independence if India becomes `Modi-mukt'," the MNS chief said.
If the Modi government was ousted and an inquiry is ordered into demonetisation, it (the note-ban) may turn out to be the biggest scam ever since 1947, he said.
Quoting a report of ISRO, Thackeray said, "A large scale desertification of Maharashtra is going on due to depletion of groundwater. After Rajasthan, our state has reported the second highest rate of desertification in country."
Saying this, he went on to question Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's claim of digging of 56,000 wells in the state.
He was in favour of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, but it should not be used as an election issue, he said.
"The Babri Masjid demolition case is in the Supreme Court and it will be deliberately discussed in the coming days to instigate communal riots," he said.
"Ram Mandir should be built, but it should not be used as an election plank to divide the society and win votes," he said.
In a dig at prime minister Modi's foreign tours, Thackeray said Modi was apparently visiting foreign countries to get "flour for Pakoda" as his tours haven't fetched any investments.
The MNS chief also said that films such as "Toilet Ek Prem Katha" and "Padman" were a covert propaganda for government schemes.
Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, who starred in both the films, was trying to walk in the footsteps of yesteryear actor Manoj Kumar, popularly known as `Bharat Kumar', he said.
"But Akshay Kumar is not even an Indian citizen. He holds a Canadian passport and his Wikipedia profile describes him as Indian-born Canadian actor," Thackeray said.
Taking a potshot at chief minister Fadnavis, who recently featured in a video song about river conservation, the MNS chief said, "There are so many problems in the state, but apparently the CM is busy singing songs."
Thackeray also questioned the government's decision to accord state funeral to Bollywood actor Sridevi after her death last month.
"Sridevi was a great actor, but what had she done for the country so that her body should have been wrapped in the tricolour?" he asked.
Media may have covered her funeral extensively at government's behest to divert people's attention from the Nirav Modi-Punjab National Bank scam, he said.
The government is trying to control media, judiciary and institutions like CBI, Thackeray said, alleging that media is under tremendous pressure from the government.
Incidentally, Raj Thackeray had met Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar yesterday ahead of today's rally.
He, however, described the meeting at Pawar's residence in south Mumbai as a courtesy call.