Uddhav Thackeray, in his first press conference after the Shiv Sena suffered its worst electoral defeat under his
leadership in the Assembly polls, surprised everyone with the state of denial he seemed to be in.
Clad in a saffron kurta, the 49-year-old denied that the Sena had lost in the polls. “I do not regard it as our defeat,” said Uddhav, at the party headquarters in Dadar. “It is just that we will not be able to work for the people like we wanted to.”
He also said that the results were “unexpected”. “Not only the Sena but even the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party had not anticipated such results,” he said.
Though defensive, he accepted responsibility for
his party’s debacle. “As executive president, I take responsibility but I am not a criminal to run away,” he said. “I still have the courage to face the people.”
A journalist bore the brunt of his unexpected outburst when he tried questioning his leadership abilities. “Don’t speak as if you have taken supari (slang for contract) from my opponents to embarrass me,” said Uddhav.
Sena party workers gatecrashed the press conference and raised slogans every time Uddhav made dramatic statements.
He said he knowingly took his time to speak on the poll results because he “did not want to spoil the happiness of those celebrating victory”, hinting at his cousin and rival Raj Thackeray.
Uddhav reiterated that in the past five years he had travelled across the state addressing the grievances of the people.
“My battle was not for any personal gains but for the larger good of Maharashtra,” he said.
He denied that the influence of former colleague Narayan Rane in Konkan was an issue and said that the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena would “meet the same fate” in the next two years.
Uddhav also defended his father and Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s statements that the Marathi manoos has stabbed the Sena in the back. “This reflects his (Thackeray’s) concern for the Marathi manoos,” said Uddhav, who officially took over from his father in 2003.
“Balasaheb’s link with the Marathi manoos is unbreakable. Such statements will not upset them. ”
He denied that there were disagreements within the Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance over the post of Opposition Leader and that the allies would select a candidate who works for the welfare of the state.