The war of words between the estranged Thackeray cousins and their rival Senas may intensify before the coming Lok Sabha elections with the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna launching a vitriolic attack on MNS chief Raj accusing him of trying to deflect the debate away from issues against the government to help the Congress and NCP.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and his estranged cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray are locked in a bitter war of words in what is seen as the battle for the Thackeray legacy in the first elections happening after the death of Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.
This week, activists of the rival Senas fought a pitched street battle outside the Mumbai city district collectorate in Old Customs House. Uddhav had charged Raj of back-stabbing Thackeray. In return, Raj, whose supporters project him as the true inheritor of his uncle's political mantle, alleged that the late Thackeray Sr had been given small, oily batata wadas during his last days, which had led to him (Raj) sending chicken soup from his house till he slipped into a coma.
Raj said that during this time, Thackeray had never felt that he had been back stabbed by his nephew. "Those who got a lot despite their lack of ability are publicly waving in rallies, bills for chicken soup sent to Balasaheb. Isnt this shamelessness?" questioned an editorial in the Shiv Sena organ Saamna, which has Uddhav as the editor and Sena Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut as the executive editor, without naming either Raj or the MNS.
"There are many problems in Maharashtra and the country. The Shiv Sena has taken to the streets on issues ranging from terrorism to corruption and inflation.... The Shiv Sena is walking on the route chalked out by Balasaheb. If we deviate from this, the people have the right to take us to task," the editorial said, alleging that while they were attacking the Congress- NCP, the "wada and chicken soup wallas" wanted to deflect this debate and help the incumbents.
"Since this is a trap set up by the Congress- NCP to stop the victorious march of the Shiv Sena, our Shiv Sainiks are behaving with restraint despite their clenched fists. No one should test their restraint," the editorial warned, adding that the Congress and NCP were clapping with glee while the Maharashtrian youth in the Sena and the MNS slugged it out. It also cautioned that those throwing rocks at Shivsainiks would have to pay the price for it. "...however, when fraticide and rebellions happen for social welfare, national interest, there must be no qualms in welcoming even this fraticidal war like the one between Delhi's Bukhari brothers," the editorial said, referring to differences between Jama Masjid Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari and his brother Yahya over the former's support to the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls.
It added that while the disagreements between the Bukhari brothers were based on national interest, the one initiated by the "chicken soup wallas" was on selfishness. "...such a disagreement is welcome. In this dispute, no oily vadas were fried and no one spoke in public about chicken soup being fed by one person to another," said the editorial, adding that warrior-king Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj too had to spend much of his energy fighting battles with his own people.
"Like his own kith created hurdles for Shivray, the same suffering came the way of Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray," the Sena said, adding that the late Thackeray Sr used to joke at times that there was no place on his back for any more daggers to be driven in.