Open to alliance with Raj, says Uddhav
In signs of a thaw, Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said he would welcome any offer of an alliance between his party and the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, in the interests of the Marathi people.
Uddhav pointed out, "One cannot clap with a single hand. Tell me, can you"?
He was responding to a query on whether the cousins could come together poltically.
Asked what he would do if estranged cousin Raj approached him with a proposal (for an alliance), Uddhav said, "If someone is going to come wholeheartedly to the Sena, I will welcome them."
Uddhav expressed these sentiments in the second part of an interview published in Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Wednesday.
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Image: Raj Thackeray visited Bandra's Lilavati Hospital to meet Uddhav after he underwent a surgery in July last year
Photographs: Sahil Salvi
'It depends on both sides'
Raj Thackeray split from the Shiv Sena in 2006 after his uncle late Bal Thackeray made it clear that son Uddhav would be his successor.
Over the last year, Raj has fuelled speculation about a patch-up, visiting his ailing uncle at 'Matoshree' several times. He also visited Uddhav in the hospital when the latter underwent first an angiography, and then an angioplasty.
Bal Thackeray passed away on November 17 last year.
On the possibility of uniting with Raj, Uddhav further said, "Why do you ask this question only to me? I am ready to reply. But for that you have to make us (me and Raj) sit together, next to each other. Then you can ask the question to both of us. It depends on both sides."
"More important than coming together, we have to first analyse why we drifted away. If we reunite, then for what purpose (will we do that)? Who is your main political opponent? Who do you want to destroy politically? And what direction should be taken for achieving this," he said.
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Image: Raj Thackeray performs the last rites at uncle Bal Thackeray's funeral along with cousin Uddhav at Shivaji Park in Mumbai
'How can I be the hurdle'
Responding to reports that he was the hurdle and the 'villain', Uddhav, in a veiled criticism of Raj, said, "How can I be the hurdle, the villain? I always remained loyal to Balasaheb. I never branched out."
Bal Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena over four decades ago to fight for the rights of people from Maharashtra and ensure justice for the sons of the soil, Uddhav noted.
"When he realised that Islamic groups were posing a threat to the country, he said Marathis would not be able to tackle the challenge. So, he adopted the policy that in Maharashtra, he would fight for Marathis," the Sena president said.
The Shiv Sena "was the party of the Marathis", Uddhav said, adding that his father had forged an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party over two decades ago to ensure that the Hindu vote did not split.
To a query, Uddhav said he was not aware of ally BJP trying to make MNS part of the alliance.
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Image: Bal Thackeray with Uddhav and Raj before the latter split from the Shiv Sena