Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s daughter-in-law Smita Thackeray’s ambitions to join the Congress may well be a pipe dream. Sources in the central leadership said no one has any indication about Ms. Thackeray joining the party.
In a sensational interview published on Saturday, Ms. Thackeray said she had become a “big admirer” of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi and that she wanted to be part of the good work being done by them.
She said she was in touch with senior Congress leaders in Delhi and it was only a question of time before she entered the party.
Ms. Thackeray, 48, a film producer, also runs a non-governmental organisation called Mukti Foundation. She has, in the interview, said that she was promised a Rajya Sabha berth by the Sena but it went to senior journalists Bharat Kumar Raut.
She said she was being marginalised and her articles were not published in Saamna, the Sena mouthpiece.
Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said the party thanked her for her sentiments about Ms. Gandhi but when it came to joining the party, there was an ongoing membership drive and that Ms. Thackeray could join. However, for some individuals, even the decision on primary membership has to be taken by the Pradesh Congress Committee.
On Saturday morning, Ms. Thackeray’s son Rahul told the media that his mother will not do anything that will upset the Sena supremo. He said she was out of station and would meet the media on returning. He also said his mother’s political ambitions were not fulfilled in the Shiv Sena. However, he did not confirm her joining the Congress and only said she had several options open. Ms. Thackeray is yet to take a final decision, he pointed out.
The Maharashtra Congress has not received any indication of Mr. Thackeray’s daughter-in-law joining the party. Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre told The Hindu that there was no application or request from her to join the Congress.
However, Congress spokesman Hussain Dalwai said Ms. Thackeray did meet some party leaders in New Delhi and that she wanted to join the party.
The revolt in the first family of the Sena is not new, with Mr. Thackeray’s nephew Raj Thackeray leaving and forming another party.
Meanwhile, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray told journalists that people were free to go where they wished and that he was not going to react.