His birthday message through a five-minute video to more than 1,000 Shiv Sainiks gathered at Shanmukhananda Hall in central Mumbai had a clear purpose: damage control.
Sena chief Bal Thackeray, who turned 84 on Sunday, set the stage for the 2012 civic elections by telling Sainiks that detractors should not affect them.
“There is a huge talk of people leaving and making huge impact. No one who has left the Sena has made any difference, not even Narya [his way of referring to Narayan Rane]. It is we who have made these people big and we need to stay together.” Thackeray said. “No one should indulge in infighting.”
Thackeray could not attend Sunday’s celebrations due to frail health and a terror alert from the police.
He was at home attending to guests with his grandson and Yuva Sena chief, Aditya Thackeray.
Recently, former Sena union leader Kiran Pawaskar’s decision to quit the party and join the Nationalist Congress Party, had attracted a lot of attention.
Pawaskar had questioned the Sena’s current leadership under executive president Uddhav Thackeray and the way power was delegated in the party. This led to huge speculation about instability in the party among its foot soldiers.
“The post and work a party worker gets is something the higher-ups in the party will decide and no one should question that. The decision taken by the leadership will be final,” Thackeray said.
Uddhav, senior leader Manohar Joshi and legislator Ramdas Kadam also addressed the gathering. Kadam said people who think Sena is a sinking ship should rethink.
“The Sena is a ship that will cause others to sink,” he said. Uddhav appealed to Sainiks to have faith in him. “I will never let you down,” he said.