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 (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and his government."
All opposition parties should come together to get rid of the BJP-led NDA government to ensure a "Modi-mukt Bharat", he said, while reminding the audience of the BJP's "Congress-mukt Bharat" slogan.
"India got its first independence in 1947, second in 1977 (after the post-Emergency election) 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 was ordered into demonetisation, it (the note ban) might turn out to be the biggest scam in the country since 1947, he said.
Quoting an ISRO report, Thackeray said, "A large-scale desertification of Maharashtra is going on due to the depletion of groundwater. After Rajasthan, our state has reported the second highest rate of desertification in the country."
Saying this, he went on to question Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's claim of digging of 56,000 wells in the state.
The MNS chief said he was in favour of building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, but it should not be used as an election issue.
"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 claimed.
"The Ram mandir should be built, but it should not be used as an election plank to divide the society and win votes," he said.
Taking a dig at Modi's foreign tours, Thackeray said the prime minister was apparently visiting those countries to get "flour for pakoda" as the visits had not fetched any investments.
The MNS chief also said films like "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 follow the footsteps of Manoj Kumar, an actor who was popularly known as "Bharat Kumar", he added.
"But Akshay Kumar is not even an Indian citizen. He holds a Canadian passport and Wikipedia describes him as an Indian-born Canadian actor," Thackeray said.
Taking potshots at 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 a state funeral to Bollywood actor Sridevi last month.
"Sridevi was a great actor, but what did she do for the country that her body was wrapped in the tricolour?" he asked.
The media might have covered her funeral extensively at the government's behest to divert the people's attention from the Nirav Modi-Punjab National Bank scam, he said.
The government was trying to control the media, judiciary and agencies like the CBI, Thackeray said, alleging that the media was under tremendous pressure from the BJP-led government.
Incidentally, 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.