Claims senior Thackeray is unaware of goings-on in Shiv Sena

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray said here on Monday that he was ready to extend his hand in reconciliation to Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, but not party executive president Uddhav, Mr. Raj's estranged cousin.

In a monologue of sorts directed at the senior Thackeray, Mr. Raj 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.”

The MNS chief was addressing a rally here ahead of the municipal corporation elections. Mr. Bal Thackeray was also addressing a rally the same evening at a different location.

Reacting to a television interview of Mr. Bal Thackeray, Mr. Raj offered a clarification on what led to his exit from the Sena.

“Our relations [between him and Bal Thackeray] soured because of a few useless people. When I resigned from the Sena's posts, forming a party was never on my mind. Nor was the thought of quitting the Sena. Leaving the party was as painful for me as it was for you [Bal Thackeray]. I was not happy to leave. You said the doors of your house are open. So are my doors.”

Mr. Raj said he was never given any decision-making powers or responsibility in the Sena. “I was only remembered at the time of elections for campaigning and making speeches. When did I ever ask for the reins of power of Mumbai?”

Listing a slew of “scams” in the Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the functioning of the party, he asked, “Is it for all this mess that I should take the first step?”

He said the Sena chief was not in a condition to step out of the house and move about. As a result, he was unaware of what was happening in his party. “The downslide of the Sena — has it been because of me?”

Addressing his uncle, he said he was fighting “like a man” but the Sena was resorting to undignified tactics like blocking cable connections at the time of his television appearances and buying off dailies carrying his interviews from the market.

The MNS chief alleged that the Radia tapes had proved that the Sena staged andolans for money.

Taking on the saffron party for opposing the Jaitapur atomic power project, he said the party had never consulted eminent nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar, whose expertise was sought by Japan post-Fukushima.