Uddhav Thackeray, in his first press conference after the Shiv Sena suffered its worst electoral defeat under his leadership in the Assembly polls, surprised everyone with the state of denial he seemed to be in.
Clad in a saffron kurta, the 49-year-old denied that the Sena had lost in the polls. “I do not regard it as our defeat,” said Uddhav, at the party headquarters in Dadar.
“It is just that we will not be able to work for the people like we wanted to.”
He also said the results were “unexpected”. “Not only the Sena but even the Congress-NCP had not anticipated such results,” he said.
Though defensive, he accepted responsibility for his party’s debacle. “As executive president, I take responsibility but I am not a criminal to run away.”
A journalist bore the brunt of his unexpected outburst when he tried questioning his leadership abilities. “Don’t speak as if you have taken supari (slang for contract) from my opponents...” said Uddhav.
Sena party workers gatecrashed the press conference and raised slogans every time Uddhav made dramatic statements.
He said he knowingly took his time to speak on the poll results because he “did not want to spoil the happiness of those celebrating victory”, hinting at his cousin and rival Raj Thackeray.
He denied that the influence of former colleague Narayan Rane in Konkan was an issue and said the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena would “meet the same fate” in the next two years.
He denied that there were disagreements within the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance over the post of Opposition Leader and that the allies would select a candidate who works for the welfare of the state.
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has changed his stand on his recent comment that the Marathi manoos had stabbed him in the back saying that he did not mean all Maharashtrians but only those who had quit the Sena.
Thackeray, in an editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamna, said the Sena was never after power and that he had strived hard for the Marathi manoos all these years. “I have strived for the Marathi manoos for 44 years,” he said. “Do I not have the right to pull you up as a father does to his children?”