After reports suggested Raj was purposely sidelined in the funeral procession of the Shiv Sena supremo, MNS workers, who avoided talking about the issue, said that the MNS chief had told them to not react even if they found something that was unacceptable to them during the funeral procession.
Raj was seen walking alone during the funeral procession on Sunday instead of joining his cousin Uddhav on the truck that was carrying Bal Thackeray’s body. “Rajsaheb walking in the procession is symbolic of the fact that he will follow in the footsteps of his late uncle and Sena supremo,” MNS state general secretary Anil Shidore said.
He said party workers had received a clear message from the party chief that the funeral procession was entirely a family matter and they should not behave in a manner that would affect the funeral.
“That was the reason Rajsaheb participated in the procession with his family members and no MLA or party official was seen along with him during the procession,” Shidore said. “It was all carefully planned so that Saheb would walk along with his family members during the procession and when he would arrive at Shivaji Park, party officials would accompany him.”
Political expert Prakash Pawar said that there was no attempt to keep Raj away from the last rites of his uncles. He said it might have been suggested by the MNS think-tank that party officials and leaders stay away during the procession. Almost all MNS officials from the city were at the funeral as a vast number of them had once been in the Shiv Sena.