Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday compared rebel party leaders to "rotten leaves" of a tree and said let there be elections to make it clear whether people support him on the rebel faction.
In his first interview to Sena mouthpiece Saamana after stepping down as the chief minister last month, Thackeray said it was a mistake that he trusted some of the party leaders too much.
Last month, the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (government in Maharashtra, which comprised the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, collapsed after Sena MLA Eknath Shinde and 39 other legislators rebelled against the party leadership.
Shinde was later sworn in as the chief minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
"These rebels are like rotten leaves of a tree and should be shed. It is good for the tree as there will be new leaves,” Thackeray said.
Reacting to the claim of rebel leaders that they represent the real Shiv Sena, Thackeray said let there be elections and see whom people chose.
"The people we will either vote for us or support them. It will be clear once and for all,” the former CM said.
Asked who could be blamed for the rebellion, he said, “Looks like I put too much trust in some Sena workers and leaders. It is my mistake to have trusted them for such a long time."
"The BJP is not only trying to break the Shiv Sena but also trying to appropriate great leaders of other parties," Thackeray alleged.
"The way they tried to appropriate Sardar Patel from the Congress, they are doing the same thing with my late father, Balasaheb Thackeray, who founded the Shiv Sena,” he claimed.
“Looks like these people are not trustworthy. They are basically causing an infighting among Sena workers,” he said.
Thackeray also said the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance was worth a try in politics.
“Had it been a wrong step according to people, they would have risen against our alliance. We had respect for each other in the Maha Vikas Aghadi," the Sena chief said.