Says Shiv Sena united more than ever after Balasaheb’s death

In a rebuff to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday emphatically said the Sena remained firmly united even after Bal Thackeray’s death and that attempts to create anarchy within party ranks would be sternly dealt with.

In a retort to MNS legislator Bala Nandgaonkar’s claim that 40 Sena leaders were in touch with him (ready to cross over), Mr. Thackeray, in an interview in his party mouthpiece Saamna said: “Even if one crosses over [to the MNS], I will publicly felicitate you.”

Mr. Thackeray also warned the ruling Congress-NCP alliance to desist from attempts to divide the Sena, while describing the two parties as “two cats who are ready to pounce on butter.”

“However, Sena is not butter but a cannonball and if it fires, the two parties will suffer divisions,” he said, adding that the Sainiks remained staunch as ever.

Bal Thackeray’s death in November last year has led to widespread speculation about the Sena’s imminent disintegration, with many analysts predicting a large-scale defection of legislators.

The party’s Nashik unit crossed over to the NCP less than a fortnight ago.

“No one is unhappy inside the party,” said Mr. Thackeray, emphasising that the party had come out of the shock of the patriarch’s demise in November last year.

“We have recovered. We have to recover. Otherwise, we would not have sent the Pakistan hockey team packing home,” he said.