MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s recent reunion with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray after quite a few years of estrangement has given rise to a new worry among workers of both parties. Though Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray is learnt to be eager to see his son Uddhav and nephew Raj joining hands, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) insiders said it was impossible for them to work with Shiv Sena workers and it would be an awkward situation for them if the cousins decided to go for an alliance in the next election.
Many MNS workers who joined Raj’s party over the past few years did so after a bitter parting with the Shiv Sena that virtually turned the two political outfits into enemy camps. On Monday, the MNS chief visited Uddhav in Lilavati Hospital after learning he had developed heart trouble. Raj skipped an important party function in Alibaug to be beside Uddhav and even drove him home from hospital. After the meeting, there was much speculation on whether the two would unite politically as well. According to MNS sources, such a union would not be stable as it would increase the ego clashes between workers of both parties.
An MNS source said it was almost confirmed that the two leaders would go for an alliance in the next election, in which case workers of both parties would have to work together. “When we left Sena to join MNS, we virtually made the Sena a political enemy,” the source said. “Egos are certain to clash between workers of the two parties while working together in the future.”
Clashes between the Shiv Sena and the MNS are not new, and just six months after the formation of the MNS in March 2006 workers of the two parties had fought each other on the streets, leaving four people injured. Verbal skirmishes between Uddhav and Raj kept occurring with regularity over the years, from trading of charges over issues like potholes in Mumbai to Uddhav terming the MNS action against the toll plazas in the state a farce.
Shiv Sena workers also said they were not too comfortable with the idea of working with MNS workers. A city party worker said differences between office-bearers of the two parties would surface with a vengeance and result in disorder if they were made to work together. Shiv Sena spokesperson Neelam Gorhe also hinted that there might be reservation among party workers over working with the MNS, but said they were disciplined soldiers who would overcome the difference if told to do so.
“Our workers do not have any problem and will follow the directions of Uddhavsaheb if both the parties have an alliance in the future,” she said. She also did not rule out the possibility of an alliance between the two parties now that the two Thackeray cousins had met.