Brushing aside speculation of a possible patch-up between the two cousins, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray attacked Uddhav for not quitting the Union cabinet despite snapping ties with the BJP.
“Despite the BJP’s betrayal, you have still kept the Cabinet post in the Union government… You also haven’t snapped ties in the BMC just because they are money sources for you...” Raj said at a public meeting in Kandivli, while launching his campaign for the Assembly polls, on Sunday.
Chiding both Uddhav and the BJP for the seat-sharing row, Raj claimed that Sena founder and his uncle Bal Thackeray would have ‘kicked’ the BJP out of the alliance a month ago.
Raj made it clear that he was projecting himself as the best alternative to the former government, aligning neither with the BJP nor with his cousin.
Raj also slammed the BJP for poaching MNS legislator Ram Kadam, saying the party could not be trusted as an ally. Raj also went back to his original ‘Marathi Manoos’ plank by raising the issue of ‘outsiders’.
Seeking to draw parallels between his leadership skills and those of the late Sena supremo, Raj said, “I would have kicked the BJP out a month ago, if I had suspected malice in their hearts about Maharashtra. Balasaheb would have also kicked the BJP off the alliance, had he been alive.”
Raj’s attack on Uddhav’s leadership comes just days after speculation was rife over a possible Uddhav-Raj understanding in the face of the split in the saffron alliance. Uddhav had recently called Raj to enquire about the latter’s poor health.
All eyes were on the MNS chief, who many believe, will play a crucial role in the eventuality of a fractured mandate. Raj had, till the rally, not reacted to the row. The silence and the subsequent revelation that the two cousins had spoken to each other had led to speculation of a possible tie-up between the two.
Raj, by attacking the Sena and the BJP, sought to distance himself from speculation of a tie-up, something that had hurt his party’s performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
Speaking of ‘outsiders’, without naming any particular states, Raj said: “They come here because there are free homes. I will keep a strict watch... They take away the jobs while our boys here die of heart attacks,” Raj said, referring to the deaths of young men during the police recruitment recently.
Former city mayor and Shiv Sena leader Shubha Raul, who has joined the MNS, also slammed the Sena, in her speech at the meeting. “Raj had warned me that I wouldn’t get justice in the Sena,” she said, referring to her repeated protests against Dahisar Sena strongman Vinod Ghosalkar who had allegedly harassed her.