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Month after revolt, Eknath Shinde greets Uddhav on his birthday; refers to him as ‘ex-CM’ and not ‘Shiv Sena chief’

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being greeted by party workers on his 62nd birthday in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray being greeted by party workers on his 62nd birthday in Mumbai on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: PTI Photo

Amid the tussle between the two Shiv Sena factions over control of the party, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde -- whose intra-party revolt last month brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government -- greeted Mr. Thackeray on his 62 nd birthday on Wednesday.

While both Mr. Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Devendra Fadnavis wished Mr. Thackeray “a long and healthy life” in their respective tweets, the duo pointedly referred to Mr. Thackeray as “former Maharashtra Chief Minister” and not as “Shiv Sena chief”.

In contrast, Mr. Thackeray’s ally in the MVA, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar, greeted Mr. Thackeray as the “Shiv Sena chief”.

Mr. Shinde’s tweet came a day after Mr. Thackeray launched a broadside against the ‘betrayal’ of the rebel Sena MPs and MLAs as well as the BJP in a two-part interview with Sena MP and Uddhav camp loyalist Sanjay Raut in the party’s mouthpiece Saamana.

In the interview, which was published to coincide with his birthday, Mr. Thackeray compared the 50 rebel MLAs (and 12 MPs) of the Shinde camp to “rotten leaves, that had been shed for the benefit of the tree (the Shiv Sena).”

In his interview with Mr. Raut, Mr. Thackeray replied to all allegations made by the rebel camp. Stating that the rebel camp led by Mr. Shinde took advantage of his surgery and prolonged illness, Mr. Thackeray said he felt so unwell for a while that he could not even move.

“I will always live with this painful reality [revolt by the 50 MLAs]… I entrusted someone [alluding to Mr. Shinde] with the party, and gave him the ‘number 2’ status, but he broke that trust. And that too when I was in hospital,” Mr. Thackeray said, adding that while some people were praying for his recovery, others were praying that he remained ill.

Warning the Shinde faction against using the name of his father – the late Sena founder Bal Thackeray – to justify their revolt, Mr. Thackeray said, “I dare them to try and separate the Shiv Sena from the Thackerays… they [the Shinde camp] ought to take the blessings of their parents and campaign, give speeches and seek votes. Why try to steal my father from me? You’ll [the rebel faction] have no dedication, no sense of duty, no courage… You are traitors.”

The Sena chief, who is planning to embark on a State-wide tour to rebuild his party and retain his hold over the cadre, accused the BJP-led Centre of trying to divide the Shiv Sena.

“Delhi wants to instigate a Sena versus Sena fight and divide the Marathi-speaking people. If the present rulers [Modi government] fear the opposition, it reflects their inefficiency,” he said.

Meanwhile, amid the rebel MLAs and MPs greeting Mr. Thackeray on of his birthday, their advertisements wishing Mr. Thackeray in Saamana, were not surprisingly rejected.

While some rebel MLAs, like former Minister Gulabrao Patil, referred to Mr. Thackeray as “Shiv Sena chief” in their greetings, a number of others merely addressed him as ‘former CM of Maharashtra’.

With the Thackeray and the Shinde camps now embroiled in legal battles over control of the party (including the Sena’s iconic ‘bow and arrow’ symbol), a long line of Shiv Sena workers from across Maharashtra converged upon ‘Matoshree’ – the Thackeray family’s private residence - to wish Mr. Thackeray and show solidarity with him.

The refrain from most was that they stood firm with Mr. Thackeray and regarded him as their party chief and the true political heir of Bal Thackeray. A number of Shiv Sainiks on the occasion even submitted affidavits pledging their loyalty to Mr. Thackeray.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2022 12:42:54 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/month-after-revolt-eknath-shinde-greets-uddhav-on-his-birthday-refers-to-him-as-ex-cm-and-not-shiv-sena-chief/article65689578.ece