In signs of a thaw, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said he would welcome any offer of an alliance between his party and the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the interests of the Marathi people.
However, Mr. Uddhav pointed out, “One cannot clap with a single hand. Tell me, can you?” He was responding to a query on whether the cousins could come together.
Asked what he would do if estranged cousin Raj approached him with a proposal (for an alliance), Mr. Uddhav said in his interview to Sena mouthpiece Saamana, “If someone is going to come wholeheartedly with Sena, I will welcome them.”
Mr. Raj Thackeray split from the Shiv Sena in 2006 when his uncle late Bal Thackeray made it clear that it would be son Mr. Uddhav who would be his successor.
Over the last year, Mr. Raj fuelled speculation about a patch-up, visiting his ailing uncle at Matoshree, several times. He also visited Mr. Uddhav in hospital when the latter underwent first an angiography, and then an angioplasty.
Bal Thackeray passed away on November 17 last year.
On the possibility of uniting with Mr. Raj, Mr. Uddhav further said, “Why do you ask this question only to me? I am ready to reply. But for that you have to make us (me and Raj) sit together, next to each other. Then you can ask the question to both of us. It depends on both sides.”
“More important than coming together, we have to first analyse why we drifted away... If we reunite, then for what purpose? Who is your main political opponent? Who do you want to destroy politically? And what direction should be taken for achieving this?” he said.
Responding to reports that he was the hurdle and “villain” in the coming together of the two Senas, Mr. Uddhav, in a veiled criticism of Mr. Raj, said, “How can I be the hurdle, the villian? I always remained loyal to Balasaheb. I never branched out.”
Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena over four decades ago to fight for the rights of the Marathis and ensure justice for the sons of the soil, Uddhav noted.
“When he realised that Islamic groups were posing a threat to the country ..., he said only Marathis would not be able to tackle the challenge. So, he adopted the policy that in Maharashtra he would fight for Marathis,” the Sena President said.
The Shiv Sena “was the party of the Marathis”, Mr. Uddhav said, adding his father had forged an alliance with the BJP over two decades ago to ensure that the Hindu vote did not split.
To a query, Mr. Uddhav said he was not aware of ally BJP making any proposal for having MNS as part of the alliance.