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Attempt to unite Thackeray cousins fails

mumbai Updated: Jan 24, 2011 01:21 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
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The last day of the eight-month-old Thackeray Jodo Andolan, a movement aimed at uniting the estranged Thackeray cousins, Uddhav and Raj, ended up being a no-show.

The last session of the campaign, held at Dadar’s Savarkar Hall on Sunday, the birthday of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, barely attracted 300 people although the organisers had claimed lakhs of people supported the movement.

Satish Valunje, the man behind the initiative, said: “There is apathy among our people. We could not publicise the event due to a paucity of funds and that resulted in fewer people coming.”

Both, Raj and Uddhav, have ridiculed the movement in the past. During Sunday’s meet, Valunje appealed to senior Sena leader, Manohar Joshi, to take over the movement. “You have achieved everything in life including the highest seat in a parliamentary democracy. It is now up to you to take the initiative and convey the views of the ordinary people to the leadership,” said Valunje. Joshi was not present at the event.

Valunje blamed ego clashes between the cousins for the state of affairs and said “outsiders” would take advantage of the disunity if nothing was done to rectify it.

The movement was launched after the Sena suffered in the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls because many of its traditional votes went to the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

Political commentator, Prakash Bal, said: “The intentions behind the movement may have been good. The fact remains that it was a fight for succession in the Sena. Raj quit because Uddhav was favoured.” He said since both the outfits, which have strong cadres, did not support the movement, it failed to take off.