MUMBAI: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should stand by the state's Marathwada region like how the country's first home minister Sardar Patel did.
Thackeray, speaking in Aurangabad, also made a reference to the Marathwada Mukti Sangram, a people's movement that demanded the region, at the time of Independence a part of the Hyderabad Nizamate, be merged with Maharashtra.
The success of the Marathwada liberation movement, along with several others, is seen as part of Patel's exemplary contribution in assimilating hundreds of princely states into the Indian Union at the time of Independence.
After a violent struggle, the arid Marathwada region finally got separated from the Hyderabad Nizamate on September 17, 1948.
"Modi should stand with Marathwada the way Patel did during Independence," Thackeray said.
Reviewing the drought situation in Marathwada, the Sena chief said several farmers have not benefited from the government's crop insurance scheme and asked the authorities to do the needful to pass its benefits to cultivators.
Marathwada, comprising eight districts including Aurangabad, has traditionally been a low-rainfall area and is currently facing a severe drought.
He also spoke on the defeat of Sena candidate and four-time MP Chandrakant Khaire from Aurangabad, one of the strongest seats of the saffron party, in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Khaire, MP since 1999, was defeated by a thin margin of 4,492 votes by the AIMIM's Imtiyaz Jaleel.
"Khaire's defeat is my defeat. We will take back the seat next time," Thackeray said.
The Sena has held the Aurangabad seat since 1989 expect for one term in 1998 when the Congress' Ramakrishna Patil won.