The annual Shiv Sena Dussehra rally is always eventful, with the huge number of people gathered at Shivaji Park. There was high drama at this year’s rally yesterday, when Shiv Sena party members and supporters forced Manohar Joshi to leave Shivaji Park.
On Friday, at a public meet in Dadar, Manohar Joshi had raised doubts over Uddhav’s leadership, when he questioned the lack of aggression Uddhav had shown over the issue of Bal Thackeray’s memorial. These comments had earned Joshi the ire of several party workers and leaders alike.
The chain of events was almost akin to a film or a play. Even before Joshi’s arrival, people had started shouting slogans against him. Many had thought that Joshi wouldn’t even show up at the event.
Generally, Manohar Joshi is amongst the first to reach Shivaji Park, and the last to leave. But yesterday, Joshi was the last to reach the venue. He went up to the stage to greet Uddhav. Soon after, a group of people started moving towards the stage. The group, comprising around 50 people, started shouting ‘Chale Jao Joshi’ (Go away, Joshi). Other sections shouted ‘Gaddar Joshi’ (Traitor Joshi), and demanded that he go back immediately. Efforts by Rashmi Thackeray, Uddhav’s wife, to control the crowd were in vain.
Within five minutes of his arrival, Joshi could hear calls for him to leave the stage. Uddhav, who had initially asked Joshi to remain seated, gave in to the crowd. Party members escorted Joshi away from the stage.
He left for his residence immediately. Speaking to the media after his departure, he clarified, “There is some misunderstanding amongst the party members. I am with the party, and will always stay with the Sena.”
After Joshi’s exit, Uddhav spoke at the rally without naming Joshi. He said, “I was sceptical whether a crowd would gather at Shivaji Park (Joshi stays a stone’s throw away from Shivaji Park). Seeing this crowd, I’m sure people have accepted me as their leader. I will bow only to sainiks, and to no one else. I am not one to accept anarchy.”
Joshi was not referred to from hereon. Questions remain whether the exit is just from the event, or whether Joshi has been shown the door permanently.