The Shiv Sena does not think that Smita Thackeray’s exit will have any political fallout. But the Sainik on the ground feels that if Smita does quit the party, she will be letting her father-in-law, Sena chief Bal Thackeray down.
The Sena is convinced that Smita’s leaving will not cause mass defections because she lacks support in the party. Yet, party workers cannot digest the fact that Smita, who benefitted most because of her proximity to Thackeray, could think of deserting the party and family.
“Saheb (Bal Thackeray) gave her everything she wanted but she continues to complain. It is unfair to hurt him now,” said Bhai Shingre, former Sena corporator, who has been with the party since its inception in 1966.
Smita shot to fame during the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party rule between 1995 and 1999. She was the power centre in the Thackeray household.
Shingre described Narayan Rane, Raj Thackeray and Smita—Raj and Rane quit the Sena in 2005--as opportunists. “They enjoyed the perks as we were jailed and received blows from the police,” he said.
Political analyst Prakash Bal said Smita’s exit would again put a question mark on Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray’s leadership abilities. “There is already a turmoil in the Sena after the recent defeat,” said Bal. “Another family member quitting the party will compound the problem. Uddhav will have to bear the brunt.”
Some Sena office-bearers at the ground level, however, dismissed Smita as a political non-entity. “Her contribution to the party was zero and her exit would not affect us at all. The Congress will exploit her to attack the Thackeray family,” said Vilas Rane, the Naigaum shakha pramukh.
But he admitted that Smita’s decision would have an emotional impact on loyal Sainiks.