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Sena chief worried about party's future: analysts

A day after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray virtually announced his retirement from public life, political experts feel that this was a hint to his cadre to think of the political future of the party. Sayli Udas Mankikar reports.

mumbai Updated: Oct 26, 2012 02:06 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

A day after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray virtually announced his retirement from public life, political experts feel that this was a hint to his cadre to think of the political future of the party.

While he clearly indicated his wish of the two Senas - the other being the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena led by his estranged nephew Raj Thackeray - to come together, and declared it as the only solution to defeat the Congress and its ally, the Nationalist Congress Party, he also made an emotional appeal to Sainiks to stand by the Sena heirs, his son Uddhav and grandson Aditya.

"I have collapsed physically… I can't walk... I am tired," said an emotional Thackeray, 86, in a video-recorded address to Sena workers who had gathered at Shivaji Park, from where it was launched in 1966, for the party's traditional Dussehra rally held on Wednesday.

"It was like announcing a retreat. 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. He has not only made them think of Sena's future, but also about standing by Uddhav and Aditya for 2014 elections," said political analyst Surendra Jondhale. He appealed for faithfulness to the Sena, which is significant at a time when the Marathi votes are getting split not only with the MNS, but also the Congress, Jondhale added.

Political analyst B Venkatesh Kumar felt that the emotional speech extended to the voters of the Shiv Sena.

"He has a charisma that is accepted by people and he is worried about the future. Considering election trends, there is likely to be anti-incumbency against the present government in 2014, and he does not want his party to lose out on that," Kumar said.

But Sainiks feel 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 handover since the Sena is a family, and Balasaheb spoke to his people as a family head," MP and senior Sena leader Anil Desai said.