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Raj: I would not like to talk about this, it is personal

Party cadres hoping Shiv Sena, MNS will patch up; political analysts not so sure.

mumbai Updated: Jul 18, 2012 00:29 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Sayli Udas Mankikar
Hindustan Times

At least one thing is clear after Monday’s unexpected display of affection by the warring Thackeray cousins towards each other — the bitterness between them has toned down.

In what is being interpreted as a thaw in relations, and possibly talks of reconciliation between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and the Shiv Sena, MNS chief Raj Thackeray was seen with the Sena’s executive president Uddhav Thackeray, who underwent a coronary angiography, following chest pain. Later, Raj personally drove Uddhav home from the hospital, and also met Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

From the time Raj had broken away from the Shiv Sena and formed his own party six years ago, the cousins never saw eye to eye, and scrupulously avoided each other at public functions.

Will the bonhomie now pave way for a political truce, fuelling possibilities of a Sena-MNS- BJP-RPI tie-up or even an informal understanding between them? “I would not like to talk about this. It is personal,” Raj Thackeray told Hindustan Times.

Senior Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut, who is close to Sena chief Bal Thackeray, did not rule out the possibility, however. “We are very happy that the two brothers came together. This has created a stir in the Congress-NCP circles, which had never imagined such a scenario was possible, and always encouraged the ‘divide and rule’ formula. This reunion has certainly given out positive indications towards future political alliances”.

MNS legislator Nitin Sardesai, a close confidante of Raj Thackeray, too toed a similar line. “It will be premature to talk of political changes. But this move has certainly reduced the bitterness between the brothers, and has opened channels of communication between the two,” Sardesai said.

Senior BJP leader Gopinath Munde, who has openly canvassed for a truce between the brothers, was elated after he met Uddhav on Tuesday.

“This has shown that the bond in the Thackeray family is beyond political matters. Sena, MNS and BJP workers are happy to see the return of these family ties,” Munde told the media after the meeting.

Sources from both the Sena and the MNS say there is some possibility of a Sena-BJP-MNS-RPI axis to counter the Congress-NCP alliance in the 2014 assembly elections. In case that does not happen, there could be an informal understanding between Raj and the saffron combine so that they do not lose out to the ruling alliance due to division of votes, the sources added.

However, some analysts term Monday’s event as a ‘clever personal move’ made by Raj, which may or may not have political implications. “If this personal gesture from Raj does become a political one, the Shiv Sena and MNS alliance will be like Congress and NCP. It seems like the hatred between the brothers has gone down but the political rivalry is unlikely to be set aside since both have seen success at their own levels now,” said Surendra Jondhale, head of the political science department, Mumbai University.

But Kumar Ketkar, senior journalist and political analyst, rubbished the event, saying it was a well orchestrated drama by Raj Thackeray. “There is no chance of the two coming together. The Monday event was an impromptu act put up by Raj who now has brownie points going his way. He has given out a message that he is the less adamant of the two Thackeray brothers. This will have no political implications.”

First Published: Jul 18, 2012 00:28 IST