Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde Wednesday declared his faction of the Shiv Sena as the true inheritor of Bal Thackeray’s legacy and accused former chief minister Uddhav Thackery of betraying ideals of his father as well as the Hindutva ideology.
“We are not gaddars (traitors). Everyone knows who the real traitors are. The betrayal took place in 2019 when you joined hands with Congress. You betrayed Bal Thackeray, Hindutva and your voters,” he said, addressing his faction’s Dussehra Rally at Bandra Kurla Complex, a show of strength countering the rival rally by the Uddhav faction at Shivaji Park.
While Uddhav’s main thrust was on targeting the BJP, Shinde, in his 90-minute address, spoke largely about his rival.
“You should introspect why we left, instead of calling us gaddars. Why did Raj Thackeray leave, and why did Narayan Rane leave? Were they all traitors?” Shinde said.
“I will never digress from the thoughts of Bal Thackeray. True heirs of Bal Thackeray are those who have inherited his thoughts,” Shinde said, repeatedly invoking the Sena founder.
I will never digress from the thoughts of Bal Thackeray. Today you called me Kattappa [the ‘Baahubali’ character who stabbed his king], but even he was self-respecting and not a two-faced politician like yo
With the Shinde faction failing to get the Sena’s traditional Shivaji Park venue for the rally, it used optics to reinforce its links to Bal Thackeray. The poster at the back of the stage read ‘Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain’, a statement Bal Thackeray made after the 1992 Mumbai riots. At the centre of the stage was a chair the Sena founder used during his visits to Thane in 2009-2010—Shinde paid tribute to the chair with a garland after he arrived on stage at 7.30 pm. At the beginning of the rally, snippets of Bal Thackeray’s speeches — criticising the Congress and the desire for the CM’s chair — were played as part of a musical video.
Attacking Uddhav over his speech at Shivaji Park, which concluded a few minutes before his own speech began, Shinde said: “Today you called me Kattappa [the Baahubali character who stabbed his own king], but even he was self-respecting and not a two-faced politician like you.”
Right at the beginning of his speech, Shinde kneeled on the stage and touched the ground with his forehead as tribute to the audience. He said: “I am one of you, I am like you. This will mark the end of dynasty politics in Shiv Sena.”
Shinde added: “Shiv Sena is not your private limited company. It is the result of the sweat and blood of thousands of Shiv Sainiks, and you gave it away to Congress and NCP for personal gain. Bal Thackeray used to say he would rather retire than join hands with scoundrels [Congress], and you disrespected his thought.”
He also targeted Uddhav over his party’s new tagline displayed at Shivaji Park — “Ekanishtha” meaning loyal. Shinde said: “What is loyal? Who are left? How many are left? Everyone will come here [to Shinde camp]. This is emotional blackmailing and it will not work.”
Shinde’s speech also had praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The Prime Minister has made our country proud, and spread the name of our country far and wide. Everyone across the world respects him. When any country faces calamities, India is the first to help that country in abundance.”