Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Sunday said he would not mind if his estranged nephew, Raj, who leads the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, eventually comes back to his party.
The veteran leader told TV channel CNN-IBN that it was up to Raj to decide his own course. “You should ask him whether he wants to come back [to the Sena]. Let that time come,” he said.
In the past, during his media interactions, Thackeray has spelt out terms and conditions for Raj’s return, one of which is that he must accept the leadership of his son Uddhav,
who is Sena’s executive president.
It is said that Uddhav’s alleged lack of leadership prompted Raj to quit in 2006 and form the MNS. Since then, Raj has accused his cousin for the Sena’s downfall and
his uncle’s miseries several times.
Since it was formed, the MNS has contested all the elections, denting the Sena’s prospects by eating into its votes.
Though the party did not do outstandingly well in the 2007 civic polls, Raj emerged as a game-changer in the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
Raj is expected to play a major role in the February 16 polls, and the Congress-NCP combine sees the MNS as a
tool that will help it regain control of the civic body after 17 years.
On Sunday, Thackeray admitted that the Sena-MNS rivalry has been dividing the Marathi votes.
Raj, his uncle and his cousin have been trading charges and counter-charges. Last week, Raj accused the Sena of misappropriating civic funds to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore.
In response, Uddhav on Saturday said Raj should refrain from making wild allegations and fight the battle like a “real man”.
The two leaders will be seen in action at separate rallies in city on Monday.