I am ready to reconcile with Bal Thackeray, but never Uddhav: Raj

In a revelation to a Marathi news channel, Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray said he would like to see his son Uddhav and nephew Raj come together. “If they came together, it would be the best thing,” Mr. Bal Thackeray told journalist Nikhil Wagle in an interview before the civic elections.

The channel aired the news on Thursday night. Mr. Bal Thackeray's comments were edited from the earlier interview and telecast on Thursday after polling was completed in the city. Mr. Bal Thackeray also said the estrangement between the two cousins had damaged Maharashtra. He said while he would like to see the two united, he could not force the issue. “After all you can take the horse to the water but you cannot make it drink.”

Raj Thackeray's new party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), was formed on March 9, 2006, after he broke away from the Sena. There has since been much mudslinging between the two cousins. In the 2009 General and Assembly polls in the State, the MNS pulled back many votes, affecting the Sena's performance badly. The Sena was left without a single MP in Mumbai and few Assembly seats.

Speculation has been rife on whether the two would come together again. For these civic elections, it was widely predicted that in the event of a hung house, the MNS could back the Sena. However, Raj Thackeray made it clear during a public rally in the city that he was ready to reconcile with his uncle but not Uddhav. He had said: “Bal Thackeray, I am ready to accept your love, your call to take the first step. I am ready to take a hundred steps forward for you, but for Uddhav and his naïve supporters, I am not willing to take even one step.”

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