A day after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray virtually announced his retirement from public life, political experts feel it was a signal to his cadres to think of the party’s future.
Clearly indicating his wish that Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena come together, saying this was the only way to defeat the Congress and NCP, Thackeray made an emotional appeal to sainiks to stand by the Sena heirs.
An ailing Thackeray, who skipped the Sena’s Dussehra rally on Wednesday due to ill health, urged his followers to stand by his political heirs — son Uddhav and grandson Aditya. “I have collapsed physically… I can’t walk... I am tired,” the 86-year-old leader said in an emotional video-recorded address to Sena workers gathered at central Mumbai’s Shivaji Park from where the outfit was launched in 1966.
“It is one thing to know that the Sena chief is old and no longer in active politics and another to hear him appeal to his force to support the next generation,” said political analyst Surendra Jondhale.
Political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar said, “He seemed anxious to make sure that his son and grandson are accepted by people. He has a charisma that is accepted by people and he is worried about the future. Considering election trends, in 2014 there is likely to be anti-incumbency against the present government and he does not want his party to lose out on that,” Kumar said.
But Shiv Sainiks feel that people are reading too much into the speech. “Uddhavji has been working alongside Balasaheb since 1995 and we have won the BMC elections under his leadership. There is no question of handing over (the reins) as the Sena is a family and Balasaheb spoke to his people as the head of the family,” MP and senior Sena leader Anil Desai said.