Is Balasaheb extending an olive branch?

In a series of interviews published in the Marathi daily Saamna, chief editor and Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray has repeatedly praised his long-estranged nephew Raj. Following the August 11 Azad Maidan riots, Raj had led a huge protest rally and Thackeray Sr seems very pleased with it.

“At the end, who came on the street for Mumbai? The Thackeray family. Where are those who brought the Parliament to a standstill?” Bal Thackeray said in an interview carried by Saamna, the mouthpiece of the party, on Saturday.

Balasaheb Thackeray
Bal Thackeray has praised his estranged nephew Raj in a recent interview. Pic/ Sameer Markande

It’s been nearly six years since Raj Thackeray quit the Shiv Sena and floated his own party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Since then, both families haven’t had a cordial relationship. However, earlier in July, when Uddhav Thackeray was admitted to the hospital after he complained of chest pain, Raj visited his ailing cousin and even dropped him home in his car. Speculation about the two parties coming together for the forthcoming elections in 2014 have been rife ever since.

When asked why the post-August 11 reaction wasn’t similar to the one after the Babri Masjid riots, Bal Thackeray responded, “Uddhav did it (took to the streets), even Raj did. Raj came out on the streets, there’s no need for everyone coming in the front all the time. After Raj’s rally, immediately the very next day Uddhav spoke about it on TV. Finally who came on the street, a Thackeray from the Thackeray family. Where are the rest who have stalled the Parliament now?”

He also attacked the media, claiming that there are people in the media who has vested motives in wanting to publish stories that are inflammatory and do not seem to like both the brothers happy. “Now how many are happy and how many are sad, after Raj and Uddhav come together? Many are suffering from indigestion now, while others are working on how to break the bonds. There are people who are now searching for issues on which both of them can be pitched against each other,” said Bal Thackeray.  

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