While Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s recent remarks have sparked a possible reconciliation with his cousin Raj Thackeray, second rank of leaders say it was aimed at preventing migration of leaders from Shiv Sena, keeping in mind Raj’s growing popularity and his statewide tour next month.
Uddhav’s hint at joining hands with Raj in an interview in party mouthpiece Saamna created a buzz in political circles with everyone drawing the conclusion that the estranged cousins were coming together to defeat the ruling Congress-NCP combine in the state.
But, leaders from both Senas were skeptical of the comments.
According to a Shiv Sena MLA, the biggest question is would Raj accept Uddhav as his leader. And, according to an MLA from MNS, Raj has now established himself as a leader with mass following and will under no manner accept Uddhav as his boss.
According to MNS leaders, the Shiv Sena camp is panicking over reports of unrest among its cadres in various districts. It began with Nashik, when a senior leader from the local unit joined NCP a few days ago, while former Sena MLC Parshuram Uparkar is unhappy and reports indicate that his followers are eager to join the MNS. “Similarly, in Kolhapur the local cadre has shown signs of revolt,” said the MNS MLA. To add to it, MNS MLA Bala Nandgaonkar said at least 40 leaders from Shiv Sena were on the verge of quitting the party to join MNS. Claiming that the Shiv Sena is in chaos, the MNS leader said that to stop this tendency, Uddhav made the statement. “This will for some time at least create confusion among Shiv Sainiks and they will put their migration plans on hold,” said the MNS MLA.
The Shiv Sena is also worried over Raj’s statewide tour, which is set to begin on February 10. For the first time, Raj will undertake a whirlwind tour covering almost all districts. He will kick start his tour at Satara, the home district of CM Prithviraj Chavan and address his first rally at Kolhapur on February 12. Shiv Sena fears that whichever district Raj would visit, its leaders may announce their intentions to join MNS. The Shiv Sena is also aware that Raj has been seriously working on expanding his party base. The 36 ‘samparka pramukhs’ appointed for each district by Raj have been camping at respective districts to ensure growth of the party. These actions are disturbing the Shiv Sena, said the MNS MLA.
Apart from the differences, laced with stinging barbs at each other, both Uddhav and Raj, even if they wish to come together, would have to decide and accept the areas they control. While Raj has 12 MLAs with him, his party has a strong presence in Nashik and Pune municipal corporations and a few districts. “It will not be a smooth alliance or merger”, said a Shiv Sena office bearer.