Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has made it clear that he still calls the shots in the party.
Addressing party workers through a video shown at a conference on United Maharashtra at Rangsharda, Bandra, on Monday, Thackeray said he had “not retired yet”.
Thackeray was supposed to address the gathering in person but what turned up at the function was his recorded statement on various issues, including his party’s stand on a separate Vidarbha state, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s recent visit to Mumbai and the controversy involving actor Shah Rukh Khan.
Thackeray’s address, however, did not make a mention of the Pune blasts, indicating that the message was recorded before Saturday’s blasts, which killed nine and injured 45.
This was the 84-year-old’s first public statement after the Sena’s agitation against Khan’s latest film My Name Is Khan.
“We never agitated against My Name Is Khan but were against Shah Rukh Khan’s statement,” said Thackeray. “If he is an Indian then he shouldn’t have supported [the] entry of Pakistani players in the IPL [Indian Premier League].”
Thackeray, who recently met Nationalist Congress President Sharad Pawar, said that it the Sena that opposed the entry of Australian cricket players scheduled to play in the IPL, after the attacks on Indians in Australia.
However there was no indication about whether the Sena would continue protesting against IPL matches.
Sena executive president, Uddhav Thackeray, blamed the Congress for the proposed separation of Mumbai from Maharashtra.
Thackeray senior also opposed the creation of a separate Vidarbha state saying he would protest against anyone who tried to divide Maharashtra or support anti-Indian elements.
Uddhav said the Sena was opposed to the use of the word ‘pradesh [region]’ in the Marathi translation of ‘Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority’.
“It sounds like they want to separate Mumbai from the state,” Uddhav said.