In yet another overture to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray came out in support of his estranged cousin whose convoy was stoned by NCP workers on Tuesday.
Uddhav, who addressed Sena legislators on Wednesday, said Raj was taking on the government as an opposition party and criticised the stone-pelting by NCP workers on his car.
“If the NCP has the guts and impulse to throw stones, it should relinquish power and take stones into their hands and see what happens to them in Maharashtra,” Uddhav told reporters. He charged that the NCP was adopting strong arm tactics using the advantage of being in power.
"This will help Uddhav gain public sympathy like Raj did when he turned up at Uddhav’s side during his illness (in July 2012),” said a Sena source, adding that this will also help project Uddhav as the supreme leader of the united opposition in Maharashtra.
“Even if Raj has spurned Uddhav’s overtures in the past for a rapprochement, he cannot oppose this expression of support, at least in public,” the source said, adding that that would sully Raj’s image. He said this could also create the atmosphere for the MNS to join the Sena-BJP-RPI ‘Mahayuti’ (grand alliance) to take on the Congress-NCP and partly take the sheen off Raj’s attempt to project his party as the face of the opposition.
Sena Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut, who is also the executive editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamna, pointed to how the NCP had read the riot act to the Sena in the past when party workers engaged in aggressive behaviour and said now, NCP workers were taking to the streets.
Raj is expected to put forth his stance in a meeting on March 2 at Jalna, Marathwada.