The twin towns of Kalyan and Dombivli, where citizens will vote in the civic elections on October 31, have become battlegrounds for the Thackerays.
On Wednesday, Maharashtra Navnirnman Sena (MNS) chief, Raj Thackeray, and his cousin and Shiv Sena executive president, Uddhav Thackeray, continued to trade charges with each calling the other a “traitor”.
Raj accused Uddhav of betraying his party cadre during the Sena’s protest against Shah Rukh Khan-starrer, My Name is Khan, while Uddhav warned Raj he would strike back if the latter continued his attack on Sena chief, Bal Thackeray.
Raj, while releasing his party’s election manifesto at Dombivli on Wednesday, accused Uddhav of betraying Sainiks who were beaten while protesting against the film. The Sena was opposing the release of the film after Khan said he wanted Pakistani players in his Indian Premier League team. “Why was Shah Rukh’s advertisement wishing Uddhav Thackeray published in the Saamna [the Sena’s mouthpiece]? You could have refused it,” Raj said. “This showed Uddhav’s loyalty towards his party workers.” Raj claimed the paper had asked the actor for the advertisement.
Uddhav, who addressed a rally in Kalyan on Wednesday, reacted to Raj’s outburst against Thackeray. Uddhav warned his estranged cousin against criticising his father.
“You may criticise me as much as you want but if you dare to that to my father, Balasaheb, I will not keep silent like Arjun did before the Kauravas in Mahabharata,” said Uddhav. He was referring to an incident in the epic when the Pandavas lose everything to their cousins, the Kauravas, in a game of dice.
Uddhav said Raj was a traitor who turned against the family that cared for him for so many years.
Raj surprised many on Monday when he bitterly lashed out at his uncle, who he considers his mentor, for promoting dynasty politics. He accused Thackeray of favouring son, Uddhav, over him. The next day, Thackeray responded by calling Raj a snotty character who should be spanked for his outbursts.
The elections have become a prestige issue for both the parties. Political commentators say the results in Kalyan-Dombivli will have a direct bearing on the 2012 civic polls in Mumbai and Thane.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Gopinath Munde, also jumped into the battle and urged voters to choose the Sena-BJP alliance. “Don’t waste your vote on the MNS,” Munde said.
“How will a man, who could not remain loyal to Balasaheb Thackeray, be loyal to you?”