'This is Balasaheb's Sena': Emotional Cadre Rallies Behind Uddhav Thackeray

"We've learnt Hindutva from Balasaheb Thackeray. We don't want Shinde's certificate," a Shiv Sena worker said.

4 min read
'This is Balasaheb's Sena': Emotional Cadre Rallies Behind Uddhav Thackeray

At 8 pm on 22 June, crowds outside a private bungalow in suburban Mumbai swelled as scores of angry and emotional Shiv Sainiks lined up outside the residence of party supremo Uddhav Thackeray.

The Thackerays – Uddhav, his wife Rashmi, and son Aaditya – were on their way back to the family house 'Matoshree' after vacating the official CM bungalow, 'Varsha'.

The development came on the heels of Shiv Sena MLA and Maharashtra cabinet minister Eknath Shinde along with at least 30 other MLAs staging a rebellion demanding the Sena to quit the ruling NCP-Congress alliance and join hands with BJP – Sena's former partner in the state.

When the family cavalcade reached Bandra at around 9 pm, slogans of 'Uddhav tum aage badho, hum tumhare saath hain' (March on, Uddhav! We are with you), 'Uddhav saheb angaar hain, baaki sab bhangaar hain' (Uddhav is fire, every body else is lacklustre) and songs comparing the Sena chief with Lord Vitthal, Lord Ram, and a wounded tiger filled the ambience.

It is interesting to note that Uddhav's decision to vacate the official CM bungalow came hours after his address to party leaders where he refused to quit the alliance or leave the CM post unless assured that the next chief minister will be from the Shiv Sena. He also urged the 'rebel' MLAs to return to Mumbai for dialogue.


'We Don't Want Hindutva Certificate From Eknath Shinde'

With Eknath Shinde claiming the support of 46 MLAs, Uddhav's move to Matoshree might not translate into much on-ground action. It, however, goes a long way as far as political symbolism is concerned.

At Varsha, Uddhav was a vulnerable chief minister at the cusp of losing his throne. At Matoshree, however, he is the indefatigable Shiv Sena chief fighting to save the party.

"We are ordinary Shiv Sainiks. We do not have a post and we don't even wish to have one. We are here for Balasaheb Thackeray and for Hindutva. We will support Uddhav Thackeray till our last breath," a 29-year-old Shiv Sena supporter, Saurabh, told The Quint as he watched the Thackeray family return home.

Next to Saurabh, in another group of individuals, Vaibhav Sawant had been passionately speaking to the media for hours explaining how a true Shiv Sainik can never be a hypocrite and go against the party.

"He (Eknath Shinde) should come back and speak to saheb. Going against the party is not acceptable. A true Shiv Sainik can never be a hypocrite. We've seen many like him come and go," Sawant told The Quint.

He further explained that all Shiv Sainiks are bound by a promise they made to Bal Thackeray – the "Hindu Hridaya Samrat" – as per which they will stand by Uddhav Thackeray and his family.

"We've learnt Hindutva from Balasaheb Thackeray. Balasaheb is a thought. An idea that lives on in every Shiv Sainik till date," Sawant added.

The Quint spoke to Sena cadre in several Maharashtra districts including Aurangabad, Thane, and Solapur. Most of them echoed similar feelings.

A party worker in Thane, Eknath Shinde's area of influence, on the condition of anonymity told The Quint that while the cadre on ground is still not entirely comfortable with the Congress-NCP alliance, Shinde's rebellion against the Thackeray family is "unacceptable."

"We do not need the certificate of Hindutva from anybody. Every Shiv Sainik is committed to the cause of Hindutva. If Eknath Shinde had some issues he should have resolved it internally. This rebellion against Balasaheb's family is a rebellion against the party," they said.

Uddhav's Emotional Appeal

In his first official address to party leaders after the fiasco, Uddhav Thackeray in an emotional appeal hinted that he is not ready to give in to the demands of the rebel MLAs.

He emphasised on how well his government managed the COVID-19 crisis and how his party is synonymous to Hindutva, Uddhav said that he is upset over the fact that the demand for him to step down did not come from the Congress or the NCP but from his own party.

"What I'm truly upset about is that had the Congress and NCP told me that we don't want Uddhav Thackeray as CM, it's fine. They are different parties. But they told me even today that they are with me. But it's sad that some of my own people are not with me," he said.

Thackeray also stated that he has no intention of forcibly holding the post of the chief minister or of the party chief against the wishes of his own people. However, those who want him to go should come and say this to his face, he said.

"Those who say that this Shiv Sena is not the Shiv Sena of Balasaheb Thackeray, I say to them I will give up this also, but come and say this to my face."

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