Let there be polls, people will choose the real Shiv Sena, says Uddhav Thackeray
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday compared rebel party leaders to "rotten leaves" of a tree and said let there be elections to make it clear whether people support him or the rebel faction.
In his first interview to Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' after stepping down as the chief minister last month, Thackeray said it was a mistake that he trusted some of the party leaders too much.
Last month, the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, which comprised the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, collapsed after Sena MLA Eknath Shinde and 39 other legislators rebelled against the party leadership.
Shinde was later sworn in as the chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
"These rebels are like rotten leaves of a tree and should be shed. It is good for the tree as there will be new leaves, Thackeray said.
Reacting to the claim of rebel leaders that they represent the real Shiv Sena, Thackeray said let there be elections and see whom people chose. "The people will either vote for us or support them. It will be clear once and for all," the former CM said.
Asked who could be blamed for the rebellion, he said, "Looks like I put too much trust in some Sena workers and leaders. It is my mistake to have trusted them for such a long time."
"The BJP is not only trying to break the Shiv Sena but also trying to appropriate great leaders of other parties," Thackeray alleged. "The way they tried to appropriate Sardar Patel from the Congress, they are doing the same thing with my late father, Balasaheb Thackeray, who founded the Shiv Sena," he claimed.
"Looks like these people are not trustworthy. They are basically causing an infighting among Sena workers," he said.
Thackeray also said the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance was worth a try in politics. "Had it been a wrong step according to people, they would have risen against our alliance. We had respect for each other in the Maha Vikas Aghadi," the Sena chief said.
Smarting from the rebellion that now threatens to take away his control over the party founded by his father Bal Thackeray, Uddhav said the Shiv Sena would win the battle in courts and on the streets, according to ndtv.com.
"They have betrayed me, split the party. They should seek votes using their own fathers' images. Stop begging for votes, using the images of the father of Shiv Sena," he said.
The Shiv Sena chief said at a time he was recovering from a major neck surgery that left him temporarily unable to use his limbs, he heard reports that "some were praying for my health and others were praying that I stayed unwell."
"I am paksha pramukh, head of the family, but I couldn't even move after the surgery - at that time they were actively conspiring against me. I will always live with this painful reality. I had entrusted someone with the party, given him the status of number two. I had trusted you to take care of the party, you broke that trust," Uddhav said, appearing to address rebel leader and current chief minister Eknath Shinde directly.
The Sena chief said the rebels resented that he had been able to keep the Shiv Sena thriving even after Bal Thackeray's death. "They want to separate Shiv Sena from the Thackerays," he alleged, comparing it to "separating the Congress from the Gandhis."