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Shiv Sena factions clamour for party legacy on founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s 97th birthday

Son Uddhav, unseated in an inter-party rebellion last year, called rival and Chief Minister Eknath Sindhe’s faction a “fake”.

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Mumbai: On Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s 97th birth anniversary Monday – the first time since the party split last year – several leaders, including his son Uddhav, were at loggerheads to claim the supremo’s legacy.

The Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray in the party mouthpiece “Saamana” called for “clamping down on the market of fakes” that has started in Bal Thackeray’s name, in a veiled taunt at Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

Shinde had broken the party last year, unseated Uddhav as chief minister, and formed a government with the help of the BJP.

Monday’s “Saamana” editorial further said that people had forced their way into the government and had “stolen Balasaheb Thackeray like stealing an idol from a temple”.

It said the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister had backed and protected the “thieves so that there were no hurdles in the theft”.

On the other hand, Shinde told reporters Monday that his government ran on Bal Thackeray’s ideals. He said, “A common worker like me got influenced by Balasaheb’s ideology and I have got the opportunity to work as Maharashtra CM because of his blessings. Not a single moment goes by when I don’t think of him… this government has been established on his ideology.”

Meanwhile, the founder’s nephew Raj Thackeray, who established the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and calls himself the real heir, released two video clips Monday on Raj’s interactions with his uncle. One of them was captioned “Varsa Vicharanch. (The ideology is the inheritance)”.

Shinde, a Shiv Sainik for decades, in June last year led a rebellion of a majority of party’s MLAs and walked out of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, also comprising the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.

He then formed a government with the BJP with himself as the chief minister and staked claim to the party’s name and symbol. While the Election Commission (EC) and the Supreme Court are still hearing the case, the EC has temporarily given the name “Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena” to the Shinde faction of the party.

Portrait at Vidhan Bhavan, address to party cadres

The Shinde-led government will on Monday evening install a portrait of Bal Thackeray in the central hall of the state legislature Vidhan Bhavan, a programme that Uddhav Thackeray has been invited for, but has decided to skip.

The portrait will be unveiled Monday in the presence of the chief minister, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Speaker Rahul Narvekar.

Rajya Sabha MP from the Uddhav faction Sanjay Raut on Sunday slammed the unveiling event as “political” and one organised by “Modi’s men”.

While all members of the Thackeray family have been invited, Uddhav and son Aaditya Thackeray will skip the event and instead pay obeisance to Bal Thackeray’s life-size statue at Colaba.

After that, the father-son duo will head to the Shanmukhanand auditorium in Sion where Uddhav Thackeray will address the party cadre in what has almost become an annual tradition.

There is still no clarity on whether MNS President Raj Thackeray plans to attend the function at Vidhan Bhavan, a senior MNS functionary said.

Other than the Vidhan Bhavan event, Shinde will also attend a cataract checkup camp and an award ceremony for health workers that his “Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena” has organised to mark the party supremo’s birthday.

Also read: ‘More personal connect’: Twitter handle shares snippets of Modi’s past, from BJP karyakarta to PM


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