Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, unseated by a stunning revolt in the Shiv Sena last month, accused Eknath Shinde of trying to bring him down even when he was unwell in hospital and could barely move, in an interview to his party mouthpiece Saamana.
He compared the rebels to “rotten leaves” of a tree that had to be shed to make way for new leaves.
“My government is gone, the Chief Minister’s post is gone, I have no regrets. But my own people turned out to be traitors. They were trying to pull down my government when I was recovering from my surgery,” Uddhav Thackeray said in the detailed interview.
Smarting from the rebellion that now threatens to take away his control over the party founded by his father Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray said the Shiv Sena would win the battle in courts and on the streets.
“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 he 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,” Mr Thackeray said, appearing to address 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.”
Mr Thackeray said the BJP was trying to appropriate great leaders of other parties. “The way they tried to appropriate Sardar Patel from the Congress, they are doing the same thing with my father,” he claimed.
On the Eknath Shinde Sena claiming the legacy of Bal Thackeray, Mr Thackeray threw a challenge.
Team Thackeray has requested the Supreme Court to stop the Election Commission from deciding on who has control of the party until a decision is taken on the disqualification of the rebels. Team Shinde, after forming government with the BJP’s support, claims it is the “real Shiv Sena”.
The Election Commission has told both the Sena factions to produce documentary evidence by August 8 to prove who represents the Maharashtra party.
“I dare them to try and separate Thackeray and Shiv Sena. Don’t use my father’s photo for votes. Everyone should use their own parents’ photos for votes. Unfortunately my parents are not alive, but they (rebels) should take the blessings of their own parents and campaign, give speeches and seek votes. Why steal my father? You have no dedication, not sense of duty, no courage – are you not man enough? You are a traitor,” Mr Thackeray lashed out.
He said in the entire crisis, he blamed himself the most. “I put too much trust in some Sena workers and leaders. It is my mistake to have trusted them for such a long time,” he said.