Since last July when Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray was admitted to the hospital, there were speculations whether the two estranged Thackeray brothers would bury the hatchet and come together. Following their ‘emotional reunion’ when Uddhav was hospitalised for angioplasty, there were talks in political circles whether the two brothers were finally joining hands. There were more speculations as Thackeray’s health worsened and Raj was seen frequently at Matoshree.
According to insiders, there are indications that the two cousins are not keen on coming together though they are fine with continuing family ties.
Uddhav is of the opinion that he has not been a complete failure as is being portrayed. He lost the assembly polls in 2009 but managed to win the second-most important election for the Sena—Mumbai civic polls. He also showed some political acumen by forging ties with the Republican Party of India which could bring in some backward class votes for his party. After the exit of Narayan Rane and Raj, it was predicted by many that the Sena would slowly disintegrate. The party’s strength reduced but it is still a major political force in state and as someone who has been handling the party for past four years, Uddhav should get credit for the same, point out his advisors. If this is the situation, why should he play second fiddle to Raj who would not return to the Sena unless he is put in charge of the party, they ask.
On the other hand, Raj—who did show some signs of reconciliation earlier—is not very keen on the same now. He thinks it is the right time for him to strike and grab the political space that was occupied by Thackeray. After all, even Sena cadres admit that he is someone who has Thackeray’s style and wit and strong contender for his legacy. If that is the case, why should he be ready for a compromise with Uddhav, his aides insist. Also, the coterie around Uddhav whom he blamed while quitting the Sena, is very much there and would not allow Raj’s return to the Sena, they say. In fact, the Raj camp is pointing out that the people can expect to see him back in the spotlight with more aggressive stance early next year.
Nobody would wish that two brothers should keep fighting but if the thinking going on in both the camps is an indication, the two cousins themselves are not keen on the political reunion. Maybe, the BJP leaders will have to work a little harder if they want the MNS on board the saffron brigade.
Thackeray, a regular reader of letters to the editor
A less known fact about late Sena Chief was that he used to make it a point to read citizens’ letters appearing in various newspapers, especially about problems being faced by them because of civic body’s negligence. There are several Sena corporators who had got dressing down by Thackeray after reading in newspapers how they were facing inconvenience because of bad job by the BMC. Is it a wonder that Sena’s influence has remained intact over several areas in Mumbai for years?