Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray accusing him of trying to destroy the careers of his own party leaders.
Addressing a rally at Khed in Ratnagiri district from the same location where Mr Thackeray addressed a rally a fortnight ago, Mr Shinde said he was the true heir to the legacy of Bal Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena.
The Election Commission recently recognized the faction led by Mr Shinde as Shiv Sena and assigned it the polling symbol “bow and arrow”.
Mr Shinde, whose coup against Uddhav Thackeray split the Shiv Sena last year and toppled the MVA government led by Mr Thackeray, said he had never seen a leader who conspired with other political parties to destroy the political careers of his own people.
He took the names of Raj Thackeray (head of the MNS) and Narayan Rane among others, who left the Shiv Sena long ago.
”How will the party grow in such a situation? I am not ‘gaddar’ (traitor) but ‘khuddar’ (a self-respecting person). Uddhav Thackeray has no right to call us traitors,” he said.
High leaders like Gajanan Kirtikar, Ramdas Kadam and others had worked side by side with Balasaheb to strengthen the Shiv Sena, but you call them traitors. “There is a limit to exercising restraint,” Mr. Shinde added.
“I am not a chief minister who gives orders sitting at home but I believe in going to the field in times of crisis. I have been infected twice with the coronavirus. I have always worked on the pitch, but you call me a traitor,’ he said, targeting Mr Thackeray.
Mr Thackeray was accused by the opposition BJP and the Shinde camp of running the government from the comfort of his private residence in Mumbai during his tenure as chief minister when the pandemic took its toll.
“Uddhav Thackeray may be heir to Balasaheb Thackeray’s wealth but not the ideology he mortgaged to Congress and the NCP to become Chief Minister (as of November 2019). I am heir to ideology and legacy of Balasaheb,” Shinde said. said.
He said that Uddhav Thackeray should know that Balasaheb was much bigger than just being his (Uddhav’s) father and that he should stop repeating the same thing to gain “sympathy”.
“I don’t want your wealth. Balasaheb may be your father, but don’t keep insisting on it to gain sympathy. Balasaheb was much more important than just being your father,” Mr. Shinde.
He also targeted the Congress party and said Shiv Sainiks had to choose between Rahul Gandhi “who cannot win national elections and cannot take responsibility for his party and nationalist and patriotic Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)