New Delhi: Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s brother Jaidev Thackeray on Wednesday (October 5, 2022) shared the stage with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde during the rebel faction’s Dussehra rally at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) in Mumbai. Jaidev is said to share an uneasy relationship with his younger brother Uddhav. During his brief speech, he lauded the “courageous step” (of charting a new course) that Shinde has taken and urged the workers not to abandon him.
Jaidev’s estranged wife Smita was also present at the MMRDA ground in BKC, the rally site in suburban Mumbai, along with Nihar, the son of late Bindumadhav Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray’s eldest brother. A vacant chair used by Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray during his last rally in Thane was also placed at the center of the stage.
Champa Singh Thapa, a trusted aide of Bal Thackeray who served the Shiv Sena founder for 27 years, was also present at the event.
Shinde’s rebellion against Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership led to the collapse of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in June this year.
‘Gaddar’, ‘betrayer’, ‘Katappa’: Eknath Shinde, Uddhav Thackeray trade charges
In what was a parallel show of strength by the Shiv Sena rivals after the change of government three months ago, Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray held their respective Dussehra rallies in Mumbai. While Uddhav held the rally at iconic Shivaji Park ground in central Mumbai, where Sena has been holding the Dussehra rallies since its inception in 1966, Shinde addressed the crowd at Bandra Kurla Complex in the suburbs.
Both the leaders bitterly traded charges and used caustic terms like “gaddar” and “betrayer”.
During his 43-minute-long speech, Uddhav branded Shinde and his supporters as “gaddar” for teaming up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to wrest power.
Thackeray, who started his speech ahead of Shinde, mounted a scathing attack on the chief minister and his supporters, saying their reputation as “traitors” will never be washed away.
“As time changes, Ravan’s face also changes. Today, it is the traitors (who are Ravan). When I was unwell and underwent surgery, I had given the responsibility to him (Shinde). But he conspired against me thinking I will never stand up on my feet again,” he said.
The Shiv Sena does not belong to any one person, but it belongs to all loyal party workers, the former chief minister said, adding, “If you feel I should not remain the Sena president, I will quit.”
“There is a limit to lust for power…After the act of treachery, he now wants the party, its symbol, and also wants to be called the party president,” he said, targeting his one-time trusted aide who served under him in the MVA cabinet.
“I swear on my parents that it had been decided that the BJP and Shiv Sena will share the chief minister’s post for two and a half years,” Thackeray said.
It is notable that the Sena had parted ways with its ally BJP after the 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls following differences over the issue of sharing the post of the chief minister.
“We have to defeat the traitors in every election,” he said, in an apparent reference to the November 3 Assembly byelection in Andheri (East) in Mumbai.
Thackeray also took a ‘Bahubali’ jibe at Shinde and compared him to the character ‘Katappa’ in the superhit film.
“The only thing I feel bad and angry about is that when I was admitted to the hospital, the people whom I gave the responsibility (of the state) became ‘Katappa’ and betrayed us… They were cutting me and thinking that I will never return from the hospital,” Uddhav said.
On the other hand, addressing the crowd for an hour and a half, Eknath said that Thackeray had “betrayed” the people of Maharashtra who voted for the Sena and the national party to form an alliance government, by teaming up with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after the 2019 Assembly elections.
Shinde asserted his rebellion was not an act of “betrayal”, but a “revolt” and asked Uddhav Thackeray to kneel down at Bal Thackeray’s memorial in Mumbai and apologise for going against his ideals and aligning with Congress and NCP.
He said massive crowds at his Dussehra rally were proof enough to show who are true inheritors of Bal Thackeray’s legacy.
Slamming Thackeray, Shinde said the Shiv Sena was not a “private limited company” and maintained that the political outfit was built through hard work of common Sena workers.
While addressing all the gathered Shiv Sainiks and citizens, he wished Vijayadashami. pic.twitter.com/5mARj6FAbH
— Eknath Shinde – Eknath Shinde (@mieknathshinde) October 5, 2022
Stoutly defending his rebellion against Thackeray’s leadership in June that brought down the MVA government, he asserted that his rebellion was not an act of “betrayal” (gaddari), but a revolt (gadar).
The Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena has often targeted rebels as “traitors”.
“We did not do ‘gaddari’ (betrayal), but this (rebellion) was ‘gaddar’ (revolt). We are not ‘gaddar’ (traitor), but soldiers of Balasaheb (Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray). You sold Balasaheb principles. Who are real traitors who betrayed Hindutva for the sake of power?” Shinde said.
Hitting back at Uddhav Thackeray for calling him ‘Katappa’, a character portrayed as a betrayer in the movie ‘Bahubali’, Shinde said he was not someone who practised double standards.
“They call me ‘Katappa’. I want to tell you, that even ‘Katappa’ had self-respect, and did not have a double standard like you,” Shinde said.
(With agency inputs)