Senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi has stirred up a controversy by criticising party chief Uddhav Thackeray.

Speaking at a private function on Friday, the former Lok Sabha Speaker said that if Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray had been alive, the government which opposed his father’s memorial would have fallen. He implied that Bal Thackeray’s memorial had not been constructed in the face of government’s opposition so far because the Shiv Sena leadership was weak.

The statement, which came shortly after Mr. Joshi met Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar in Delhi has not gone down well with the Sena leadership. For a while now, Mr. Joshi has been angling for ticket for the approaching Lok Sabha elections but met with a lukewarm response from the party. Many within the party view his criticism of Mr. Uddhav Thackeray and his meeting with Mr Pawar as a pressure tactic.

On Saturday, Mr. Joshi tried to defuse the crisis by calling on Mr. Thackeray at his residence. Speaking to the media after the meeting he said “Ï did not criticise the party leadership. My statement has been recorded by the media present at the event.”