New Delhi: Amid the bitter tussle between Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde factions to prove which group is the real Shiv Sena, the former chief minister hit out at the latter claiming the rebels were just “rotten leaves” which should be shed for the benefit of the tree.
In a hard-hitting interview to Sanjay Raut for party mouth-piece Saamana, former chief minister Thackeray claimed that the group led by chief minister Eknath Shinde “betrayed” him and wanted to “finish” the Shiv Sena. “These rebels are like rotten leaves of a tree and should be shed. It is good for the tree as there will be new leaves (leadership). All that the BJP and these rebel MLAs want to do is finish our party, Shiv Sena. There are many senior Sena leaders who worked with Balasaheb Thackeray, who have come to meet us and have blessed us for our stand,” Thackeray asserted.
The former chief minister, who stepped down from the office last month after a Shinde-led revolt, said he had given the latter the “number two” position in Shiv Sena but the latter broke his trust.
“I am paksha pramukh, the head of the family, but I couldn’t even move after the surgery. But at that time, they were actively conspiring against me. I will always live with this painful reality. I entrusted someone with the party, gave him the status of number two. I had trusted you (Shinde) to take care of the party, you broke that trust, that too when I was in the hospital,” he said.
Asserting that the Shinde faction should “stop begging for votes” in the name of party founder Bal Thackeray.
“They have betrayed me, split the party. They should seek votes using their own parents’ images. Stop begging for votes using the images of the father of Shiv Sena, Shri Balasaheb Thackeray,” he said.
The former chief minister dared the Shinde faction to “separate Thackeray and Shiv Sena”.
“I dare them to try and separate Thackeray and Shiv Sena. Unfortunately, my parents are not alive, but they (rebels) should take the blessings of their own parents and campaign, give speeches and seek votes. Why steal my father? You have no dedication, no sense of duty, no courage? You are a traitor,” a combative Thackeray said.
Significantly, Thackeray’s outburst has come at a time when the two groups are engaged in a bitter fight to prove that they are the real Shiv Sena.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Saturday asked the rival factions to submit documentary evidence to prove that they have a majority of members on their side in the Balasaheb Thackeray-founded outfit.
“The way they (BJP) tried to appropriate Sardar Patel from the Congress, they are doing the same thing with my father’s legacy, which no true Shiv Sainik will allow to happen,” Thackeray added.
Recalling the neck surgery he underwent last year, Thackeray said that he came to know about the ones who were praying for his health and also the ones praying against his wellbeing.
“At a time when I was recovering from a major neck surgery that left me temporarily unable to use my limbs, I heard reports that some were praying for my health while others were praying that I stayed unwell,” he said.
“I wanted to ask those who now are screaming Hindutva – when the BJP broke alliance with Shiv Sena, did we leave Hindutva? No, we didn’t. I have heard, that Rs 1,000 crores were spent during all these dramas. What has been done today, if they had discussed it with me, it would have been done naturally as alliance partners and with respect,” Thackeray added.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear on August 1, a fresh plea of the Uddhav Thackeray camp, seeking a stay on the Election Commission of India (ECI) proceedings on Eknath Shinde group’s claim for recognition as the ‘real’ Shiv Sena.