Declining to accept the position of Shiv Sena pramukh (supremo), party executive president Uddhav Thackeray has said his late father Bal Thackeray cannot be replaced from the post.
After MNS chief Raj Thackeray, it is Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, who faced flak from politicos across the spectrum for speaking in support of the MNS leader and stressing on the implementation of a permit system for the people from Bihar.
"There will not be another Sena pramukh," Uddhav said in an interview published in Sunday's edition of his party mouthpiece Saamana.
He said Bal Thackeray, who passed away on November 17, will always be Shiv Sena pramukh and hinduhriday samrat.
Though Uddhav has declined to accept the mantle of Sena chief formally, the party has handed him all the decision-making powers that rested with Bal Thackeray.
"An important meeting of Sena leaders took place yesterday...it was decided in the meeting to hand over all the powers that rested with Balasaheb to Uddhav," party spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said adding that the party will be united under Uddhav's leadership to fulfil Balaasheb's dreams.
"The atmosphere at the meeting was charged with emotions," Raut said.
Those present apart from Uddhav included Raut, former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, Sudhir Joshi, Leeladhar Dake, Subhash Desai, Ramdas Kadam and Gajanan Kirtikar.
Asked about the controversy over memorial for Bal Thackeray, Uddhav said he did not wish to involve himself in it.
"The controversy is unwarranted," he noted.
Uddhav said he is still finding it difficult to believe that the Sena patriarch is no more.
"But, I have to start afresh. Whenever I am alone, I am overwhelmed with memories, feel he is still around and want to meet him. Countless Shiv Sainiks also feel the same," he said.
"I want to tell the Shiv Sainiks to overcome this grief and prepare to fight on the path shown by Balasaheb," he added.
Uddhav said his father's health started deteriorating after his (Uddhav's) second angioplasty procedure on November 4.
He is undertaking a short tour of the state from Monday to thank people for their love and support to him after the Sena chief passed away.
"I just want to stand before them with my hands folded," he said.
Uddhav said he will undertake an extensive tour of the state from January-February next year.
"Shiv Sena will fulfil Balasaheb's dream of coming to power in Maharashtra and transforming it into a progressive and strong state," he said, adding that he will work tirelessly to achieve the purpose.
To a question on the future direction of the party, Uddhav said it will be on the path laid down by Balasaheb.
"Fight for rights of sons of soil, Marathi asmita, Mumbai, Hindutva and against Bangladeshi migrants and Islamic fundamentalism," he added.