In a show of strength, mill workers from across the state took to the streets with a little help from estranged cousins Raj and Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday.
With their supporters in tow, the warring cousins participated — albeit separately — in the rally from Byculla to Azad Maidan demanding free housing for mill workers.
"I hope seeing the response, the state government will accede to the legitimate rights of the mill workers," said Raj who walked with his wife Sharmila.
Uddhav, who was accompanied by his new ally Ramdas Athawale, called the state government 'Kumbhakarana'. "We will be forced to awaken him (the government) and we know how to do so," warned Uddhav.
Although the rally had raised expectations of a reunion of the cousins, both Uddhav and Raj kept considerable distance from each other. While Uddhav and Athawale were at the front of the rally, Raj joined towards the tail end.
The MNS chief did not go to Azad Maidan to avoid sharing the dais with Uddhav and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. "I had made it very clear that I won't be going on the dais or giving a speech," Raj said.
The two cousins also differed on the future course of action. While speaking at the rally, Uddhav announced that they would declare a Mumbai bandh on August 1 if the government did not accept the mill workers' demands. However, Raj opposed the move. "This will only serve to cause inconvenience to the common man and since the assembly session is going on, the legislators should force the government to accept the demand," he said.
The mill workers, however, were happy with the response. "This was the land which we worked for and we have the right to it," said Sunil Nachane, who worked at Appolo Mills for 27 years.
Similarly, Sanjay Jadhav, whose father Kashinath had worked in Srinivas Mills said his family had suffered after his father lost his job. "My father and his colleagues gave everything to this city and now we are asking for our right," he said.