The Shiv Sena is shocked.
Known for the fierce loyalty of its members, the party is finding it hard to accept former legislator Sitaram Dalvi’s statement to the Bombay High Court that the party’s top leaders should also pay for damages to a suburban hotel during a protest last January.
Dalvi was asked to pay Rs 7.8 lakh for vandalising Hotel Inter Continental [now Hotel Inter Continental The Lalit], Sahar, last year. On Wednesday, Dalvi told the court through his counsel S.S. Kulkarni that the government should recover the fine from the party and its top leaders. When the court asked Kulkarni whether he wanted the dues to be recovered from Sena chief Bal Thackeray or senior party leader, Sanjay Raut, Kulkarni said, “Yes.”
It is for the first time that a Sainik has passed responsibility for political vandalism to Thackeray and other senior leaders.
“This is ridiculous. This has never happened in the Sena,” a shakha pramukh said. “Sainiks have gone to jail for Balasaheb, but no one has put the blame on him or senior leaders like this.”
Another party leader said Dalvi is a senior leader and should have taken responsibility instead of naming others.
Dalvi, on his part, said he was “fighting for justice”. “It is not a question of who will pay the money. There were recent cases in court where other political leaders got away scot-free. Balasaheb Thackeray has made me a leader and I never said that he should pay up,” Dalvi told Hindustan Times. “I only said it is a collective responsibility of everyone when such a protest is held and all of us need to contribute.”
The Sena’s labour wing, the Bharatiya Kamgar Sena, had led a protest at the . Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut had led the morcha and Dalvi had taken the police permissions for the protest march.
“It was the question of the livelihood of those 21 employees whose cause we fought for,” said Raut. “The party give a suitable reply to the court,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut said. When asked to comment on Dalvi’s statement, Raut said: “I am in New Delhi attending the Parliament session and I’m unaware of what he said.”