In a move that has prompted speculation about the possibilities of their politics, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray drove down for over an hour-long meeting with estranged cousin and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav at the latter’s residence on Friday.
Raj, accompanied by party leader Bala Nandgaonkar, reached Matoshree, Bandra, around 11am and left post noon.
The meeting, sources from both sides insist, was for personal reasons — the turmoil in the family caused by the legal battle being fought by Uddhav’s elder brother Jaidev over the inheritance of father Bal Thackeray’s assets.
Jaidev’s statement that his son Aishwarya isn’t his — has caused deep anguish in the family and promises to cause further embarrassment as the legal battle progresses in the Bombay high court, where Jaidev has challenged the late Sena chief’s will, claiming Uddhav influenced it.
Sources in the family said a phone call between the two estranged cousins laid the ground for the visit. The meeting was, in large part, influenced by the fact that Raj continues to share warm relations with Jaidev, unlike Uddhav, who, according to Jaidev, has not been on talking terms with him.
“Raj, after all, is the common glue between Uddhav and Jaidev. In the absence of any relations between them, Raj becomes the best person to help the two reconcile their strained relations,” said a source close to the family.
According to the source, Raj might now approach Jaidev to try and hammer out a solution to ensure the legal battle is settled with discussions.
The irony: An estranged cousin was here to mediate between two estranged brothers.
Even while familial issues were discussed, the meeting was not devoid of political colour. The meeting, leaders in both parties said, is likely to send out a message that the two brothers can work together in the future, if the need be.
“This ‘future’ could be as soon as post the civic polls, if the political climate is such. If these conversations continue, the two might hopefully be able to establish a working relationship,” said a hopeful leader from Raj’s MNS.
Leaders in Uddhav’s Sena, however, weren’t as hopeful. Many were even uncomfortable with the idea that the meeting had become a media spectacle. Sena insiders suspect the MNS chief tried to derive political mileage out of the meeting.
“The Marathi voter is still hopeful for a reunion between the two brothers. Raj might use the meeting, and that he drove down to Matoshree, as his way of showing that he had extended his hand of friendship,” said a Sena leader.