At first rally in Mumbai, Raj Thackeray urges voters to shun Shiv Sena

Raj Thackeray addresses a rally at Kalachowki on Tuesday. (Express photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

In his first rally in the city, MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday urged people not to vote for the Shiv Sena as it would mean voting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. His remarks came two days after Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, without naming the MNS chief, asked him to state the reason for asking voters not to vote for the BJP-Sena and who they should vote instead.

Raj Thackeray said RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani's open support to Congress candidate Milind Deora was a "big message" to the country and not limited to South Mumbai alone. He said that it was an indication Modi was heading towards defeat.

"What is the reason and purpose of Ambani and businessman Uday Kotak openly supporting Deora? This is a message from Ambani to the country that the BJP is going to lose… Their (Ambani and Kotak) support is not limited to South Mumbai but to all of the Congress… I don't remember any industrialist openly supporting a political party like this."

Addressing a large crowd in Kalachowki, Raj Thackeray said, "There is a huge contradiction as, on one side, the Pakistan PM wants Modi as Prime Minister and, on the other side, the country's biggest businessman is supporting a Congress candidate. Ambani is a good friend of Uddhav…"

Both Ambani and Deora have maintained the support was extended only for South Mumbai seat, not for any party.

The MNS is not contesting the elections but Raj Thackeray has been holding campaign rallies across Maharashtra, screening videos of Modi's speeches delivered before and after the 2014 polls to highlight contradictions.

Accusing the BJP IT cell of using fake images showing people supporting Modi and his schemes, Raj Thackeray brought a family on stage whose photo was posted on "Modi Fan Page" on Facebook showing them thanking the BJP government. "The BJP IT cell posted the photo of a family supporting Modi. But when our people investigated we found it was a family photo stolen by the BJP. What is shocking is, the family did not know about this," he said.

Raj Thackeray also targeted demonetisation and called it the biggest "scam" in independent India. He said MoUs under Make In India were nothing but fudged numbers. On the Jet Airways crisis, he said Modi and Shah had not uttered a word on that. Blaming the Modi-Shah-led BJP for the intelligence failure that led to Pulwama, he said they were "peddling lies" seeking votes in the name of jawans.