Mumbai: Thousands of Shiv Sainiks took to streets in Mumbai on Saturday in protest against the rebels’ flight to Guwahati and their attempt to topple the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Agadhi (MVA) government.
They organised a rally outside the Shiv Sena Bhawan and called Eknath Shinde who is leading the rebel group a “traitor” and vandalised the offices two rebel legislators, sources said. A leader of the Shiv Sena’s transport wing Indrapal Singh from Sion area of Mumbai said, “We want Shinde to do ‘ghar wapsi’. He is a traitor. If he does not listen then like Sena MP Sanjay Rautji said we are just waiting for instructions from the Chief Minister.”
Amidst Shiv Sena’s protests, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a scathing attack on purported attempts by the rebel group to christen itself after the party founder-patriarch, the late Balasaheb Thackeray.
“Don’t invoke my Dad’s name, use your father’s name, to win the elections,” said a livid Thackeray, presiding over a meeting of the Shiv Sena’s national executive in Mumbai in the afternoon.
His strong reaction came in response to unverified reports that the rebels led by Shinde – currently camping in Guwahati – had allegedly decided to rename itself as ‘Shiv Sena-Balasaheb Thackeray Group’. As a row built up with angst among Shiv Sainiks in Maharashtra, the rebels quickly backtracked and claimed that they are the ‘real Shiv Sena’.
Thackeray also said that the party will write to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure that the name of Shiv Sena or Balasaheb Thackeray is not misused by unauthorised persons or groups of such ‘turncoats’ for their political interests, failing which they would face legal action. Bouncing back to his aggressive mode on the fifth day of the political crisis plaguing the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Thackeray challenged the rebels ‘to show courage and face the electorate and the people’ without uttering the names of Shiv Sena or the party founder, the late Balasaheb Thackeray.
Calling Shinde a ‘traitor’, the Sena Tiger recalled how he did a lot for him (Shinde), but he was hurling a series of baseless allegations against the Sena and Thackeray. “I did everything possible for Shinde…. I allotted him the Urban Development portfolio which I handled. His son (Dr Shrikant Shinde) is a two-time MP and now they are commenting on my son (Aditya Thackeray), and levelling many allegations even against me,” said Thackeray.
Rebels fear backlash, seek security
Exasperated Shiv Sena rebel MLAs have alleged that the security cover of around 16 legislators – currently camping in Guwahati – has been abruptly withdrawn, terming it as an illegal move arising out of vendetta. The affected rebels have also expressed fear that a situation akin to Punjab where the security of several high profile persons was withdrawn by their state government, resulting in their being targeted by the mafia in that state, without naming, referring to the May 29 killing of rap singer Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu alias Moosewala’.
The rebels’ group has shot off a letter to Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders like Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, Director-General of Police Rajnish Seth and all police commissioners in the state. Responding to it, Walse-Patil dismissed the rebels’ accusation, asserting how ‘nobody’s security cover has been withdrawn’ and said instructions had been issued to provide security to the family members as needed. In the letter, the rebels have claimed that “this sinister move is another attempt to break our resolve and arm twist us to give into the demands of the MVA government comprising of NCP and INC goons”.