INDIA. Mumbai: The Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray on late Sunday evening lambasted the Election Commission of India (ECI), saying that its decision to award the Shiv Sena name and party’s ‘Bow and Arrow’ symbol to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s rebel faction was “unacceptable.”
Addressing a mega rally on Golibar Maidan at Khed in Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, Thackeray accused the ECI of being “a slave to power” and taking orders from “above.” This was the first rally of Thackeray after Shiv Sena lost its name and poll symbol.
The EC’s decision was erroneous. The Shiv Sena was formed by my late father, Balasaheb Thackeray, and not by the EC. They may award the party name and symbol to the Shinde group, but they cannot give the party to anyone. We will not allow them to do so. This Commission is a slave to power and acts according to orders from the BJP-led Centre. It does not deserve to be called the ECI, an angry Thackeray thundered.
Pointing out the massive gathering at his rally, Thackeray said that if the ECI’s eyes are “not clouded by a cataract,” then the Commission’s authorities could come to Khed and see for themselves who the “real” Shiv Sena is.
Lashing out at the BJP for “behaving cruelly” with the Shiv Sena despite all that Balasaheb did for the former in the past, Thackeray said that in breaking the Shiv Sena, the BJP had wounded the Marathi-speaking populace and the Hindu community in general. “When even a dog was not bothered about the BJP, it was Balasaheb who stood by it. It was Balasaheb who helped the BJP establish ‘Hindutva’. And yet, this is how they behaved with us”, Thackeray said.
Referring to the BJP’s: “hypocrisy”, Thackeray said that during recent by-polls in the Pune district, Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused him of dallying with Congress and the NCP. However, the same BJP that had labelled Meghalaya’s National People’s Party (NPP) as “most corrupt”, could now conveniently form a government with NPP leader Conrad Sangma.
“I have recognition only because of Balasaheb. Sardar Patel had banned the RSS, yet they stole his name in Gujarat. Similarly, they stole Subhash Chandra Bose in Bengal and did the same with Balasaheb in Maharashtra. I challenge them to urge voters in Modi’s name and not in the name of Shiv Sena, and that too without Balasaheb’s photo. The BJP, which was not involved in the country’s freedom struggle, should be nipped in the bud in the 2024 general elections, otherwise, democracy will not survive in the country,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray turned his anger towards the rebel Shinde faction. He said that MLAs from the Shinde group, whose careers had only grown in the last 10–15 years, had the nerve to teach him the values that Balasaheb stood for.
“I am criticized for running the MVA government from home. But Maharashtra’s work was lauded at the world level at that time, which was a credit to the state and not me. That time, you were busy throwing a salute before Delhi. The industrial projects are being diverted to Gujarat right under your nose, which is shameful. Now the ‘Speedier’ government is publicizing its ‘achievements’ on the walls of ramshackle State Transport buses, which exhibit its progress,” Thackeray took a dig.
“In a recent bypoll in Kasaba assembly, the voters made the BJP bite the dust. Even in Pimpri-Chinchwad, the BJP would have lost, but for a rebellion, it could scrap through. The BJP had no courage to face the electorate in the Andheri bypoll,” Thackeray added.
At the time, Sanjay Kadam, a former NCP MLA from the Khed-Dapoli Assembly, joined the Thackeray faction. His homecoming is being viewed as an attempt to cut former Shiv Sena MLC Ramadas Kadam (Shinde group) to size. MLA Bhaskar Jadhav, MP Vinayak Raut, Deputy Leader Sushma Andhare, and others spoke. Former MPs Chandrakant Khaire and Anant Gite, and senior leader Subhash Desai were present.
Also Read: SC Declines to Stay EC’s Decision to Recognize Shinde Faction as “Real Shiv Sena”