Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has claimed that NCP chief Sharad Pawar was keen on joining the NDA, but they thwarted the plan. In a strong rebuttal, Pawar dismissed Uddhav’s statements as “joke of the year” and argued “these days nobody takes Uddhav seriously.”
In an interview to a news channel, Uddhav said, “Pawar was open to discussing both pre and post-poll alliance with the NDA. But not just me, BJP’s Gopinath Munde and other leaders strongly opposed it,” Uddhav said.
On March 31, Thackeray in an interview to his party mouthpiece Saamana had at lenght talked about Pawar’s plans to join NDA. “Pawar has the habit of sailing on two boats,” he had stated.
The Shiv Sena is not just pitted against the NCP but also finds itself in an ongoing war of words against the MNS led by Uddhav’s cousin Raj Thackeray.
The last 48 hours saw the estranged cousins making serious allegations against each other and also blaming each other for their separation and failure to reconcile their differences to work together in the “mahauti” grand alliance led by the BJP in Maharashtra against the Congress-NCP coalition.
Refuting Raj’s allegations that Uddhav did not want MNS to join the grand alliance, Sena president said: “You (Raj) left the parent party Shiv Sena because of frustration with Uddhav. So, where is the question of your heeding to any suggestions from me. You did not even heed to the advice of Bal Thackeray. You stabbed Bal Thackeray. You left the party and formed your own organisation.”
Uddhav made these remarks against Raj at an election rally held in Worli, Mumbai on Tuesday. Uddhav was countering Raj, who minced no words to undermine his cousin at a Pune rally a day earlier on Monday night.
Interestingly, Raj played to the public when he said, “Senior leaders like Gopinath Munde himself had confided that Uddhav was not giving his approval for MNS’s joining the grand alliance lead by BJP.”
An editorial in Saamna questioned Raj’s credentials (aukat). In retalitation, Raj said, “ I will show them my “aukat” in the elections.”
Uddhav said, “I am willing to pick up the gauntlet thrown by Raj.” On Tuesday, he said, “ I am putting a full stop to the incident now. But if you are keen to take it up we will finish this issue once and for all after the elections. You can show your aukat then.”
Raj had also wondered how Uddhav, who claimed Pawar would not be allowed to enter NDA, did not utter a word when Sena leaders pleaded with the NCP president for helping them find land for Bal Thackeray’s memorial.
In response, Uddhav said, “Yes, we approached Pawar. He had kept asideall his political differences and visited Shivaji Park to offer his tribute on the first death anniversary of Balasaheb. Political leaders and people from different walks of life setting aside their differences had come to pay their reverence. Except you (Raj) who lived across the road. It shows your affection for Bal Thackeray.”