MUMBAI: For first time since Shiv Sena’s inception 56 years ago, two Dussehra rallies were held in Mumbai by the party’s rival factions led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his former mentor Uddhav Thackeray, in what is being considered as a show of strength by the two camps.
The rallies generated intense interest in political circles and also among common citizens as there were more than just speeches by the two friendsturned-foes. Both the factions sought to present themselves as the ‘real’ Shiv Sena and tried to claim the legacy of the party founder Bal Thackeray.
While the Uddhav Thackeray faction held its rally at the historic Shivaji Park in Dadar, a venue associated with Shiv Sena since its inception, the rebel group organised its event at the MMRDA Ground in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC). At his really, Thackeray launched attacks on the Shinde faction and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is now part of the Government in the state. On the other hand, Shinde targeted Uddhav Thackeray for “deviating” from the path of Hindutva and joining hands with his once-rivals Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government in the state in November 2019.
Thackeray launched a blistering attack and called Shinde a “traitor”. Referring to an alleged offer of Rs 50 crore to MLAs to switch sides, he said: “This year’s Ravan is different. Ravan used to have 10 heads. But this Ravan has 50.” He said he won’t tolerate any unjust treatment meted out to Shiv Sainiks.
Chief Minister Shinde asserted that his rebellion was not an act of “betrayal”, but a “revolt” and asked Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray to kneel down at the party founder Bal Thackeray’s memorial and apologise for going against his ideals and aligning with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party. “You (Uddhav Thackeray) said hamara pariwar, hamari jimmedari (our family, our responsibility). But your family is confined to hum do, hamare do,” Shinde said in a veiled reference to Uddhav and his son Aaditya Thackeray, who helms the affairs of the party.
Continuing to hurl barbs at Thackeray, Shinde said, “You were doing work from home, but we are used to working without home. We have all worked day and night during floods in Maharashtra. But our leader came only to click photos. Shiv Sena is not your private limited company but was formed through efforts of common Sena workers,” emphasising the work done by Shiv Sena cadres on the ground during the floods in the state.
On Balasaheb’s legacy and his true heir, Shinde said his group is getting support for protecting Balasaheb’s ideology and Hindutva. People will soon stop asking who the real heir to Balasaheb’s legacy is, Shinde added, pointing out that the answer lies in the massive crowds seen at his Dussehra rally