Gaddari, Hindutva, Legacy: Uddhav vs Shinde Dussehra Face-Off Was Verbal Warfare

For the first time in 56 years, Shiv Sena cadre attended two separate Dussehra rallies, but the agenda was the same.

5 min read

"The Raavana this year is different; he changes with time. He had only 10 heads so far, now how many does he have?" asked Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray while addressing a crowd of thousands of supporters at Mumbai's Shivaji Park at the party's annual 'Dasra Melava' on Wednesday, 5 October.

As the crowd responded with "50 heads," Uddhav said that this year's Raavana had 50 'khokas' (a slang used for crore) instead of heads, and dubbed him as 'khokasur' and 'dhokasur', referring to the claims of Eknath Shinde and his supporters being given Rs 50 crores by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to break the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in June this year.

As he arrived on the stage, Uddhav first knelt before the crowd with the support of those around him, indicating his ongoing recovery from his spinal cord surgery that he claims was used by Shinde to "backstab" him.


Meanwhile, in a separate rally at MMRDA grounds in Mumbai's BKC, Shinde arrived on stage at the same time, flanked by several members of the Thackeray family and his loyalists, running high on optics and leaving no stones unturned to stake claim on the party's legacy.

For the first time in 56 years, the Shiv Sena cadre attended two separate Dussehra rallies in Mumbai , but the agenda of both speeches was the same — to ensure show of strength and dub the other faction as the gaddars (traitors).

The two addressed the claims and counter-claims going on for months and touched upon several converging conflicts:

  • Both claimed the legacy of Bal Thackeray's Hindutva ideology

  • Both aimed at labelling the other side as 'gaddar'

  • Both invoked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

  • Both claimed the right on the party symbol

  • Both fiercely defended their sons


On Abandoning Hindutva Claim, Thackeray Invokes Mohan Bhagwat

Most of the two speeches by Thackeray and Shinde were about the Hindutva agenda. While Thackeray staunchly detailed his idea of 'inclusive' Hindutva and challenged Shinde for an open debate on it "without following a BJP-written script", Shinde constantly pushed to justify that Uddhav had abandoned Hindutva only to remain in power and enjoy the support of the Congress and the NCP.

Reiterating that he did not need to learn about the Hindutva from the BJP, and slamming PM Modi for attending Nawaz Sharif's birthday party and joining hands with the PDP in J&K, Uddhav accused the BJP of using Hindutva to divert from the issues of price rise and inflation.

"RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale has shown BJP the mirror," he said, referring to Hosabale's recent statement about the challenges of rising income inequality and unemployment.

"Bal Thackeray has always said that our Hindutva should be for the good of the nation," he said.

Citing Mohan Bhagwat's recent meetings with members of Muslim bodies, Thackeray said: "I have the utmost respect for Mohan Bhagwat ji. He recently visited a mosque. Does that mean he abandoned Hindutva? He went there for dialogue.".

"If Mohan Bhagwat goes to a mosque and initiates dialogue, it's an initiative in national interest. But if we join hands with the Congress, we get accused of abandoning Hindutva? It's all being said and promoted to create a facade," he added."

Uddhav also cited the recent cases of Uttarakhand and Bilkis Bano to justify his stance.

"The accused (in Bilkis Bano case) faced the consequences of the law and were punished. But the Gujarat government set them free, the local leaders garlanded them when they returned to their villages," he said. "Is this the BJP's idea of Hindutva?" he added.

Shinde, meanwhile, claimed that Uddhav did not even work for safeguarding the reputation of Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar while in the MVA, as he feared a "fallout with the Congress" and that he had abandoned the ideology of Bal Thackeray's Hindutva only for the chair.

"You say that Sharad Pawar had put a condition for making you the CM in 2019, could you not have put a condition to him that you will not have symathisers of terrorists in your cabinet?" Shinde asked, referring to NCP leader Nawab Malik.


Claims on Bal Thackeray's Legacy, Party Symbol

Both Uddhav and Shinde staunchly staked claim on the party symbol and name, with each side accusing the other of not being worthy of it.

"How greedy can one be? He (Shinde) first wanted Sivaji Park, now he wants the bow and arrow, symbol and my father's name," Uddhav said. "How will you get all that if the Shiv Sainik's won't let you?" he asked.

Commenting on the symbol war, Shinde said: "Shiv Sena is not a private ltd company, it belongs to all the people who gave their blood and sweat for it."

"If all your workers hadn't promoted the Shiv Sena in their villages and Talukas, you would not have reached the post that you are at. MPs, MLAs, and workers have left you, still you don't open your eyes," he said.

"Why did 50 MPs and 12 MLAs leave you? Why did 14 state pramukhs come to Delhi and extended support to me? You need to introspect rather than calling them traitors," Shinde said.


2019 Flashpoint: Thackeray Slams Modi-Shah, Shinde Defends Them

Slamming Amit Shah, Thackeray said that he had broken the promise made to the Shiv Sena in 2019 of sharing the CM post for 2.5 years.

"The country's stature is falling with the rupee, but what is Home Minister Amit Shah doing? I don't understand if he is the country's minister or the BJP's internal minister. He is going around states and ensuring that Opposition governments fall," Thackeray said.

Thackeray said that he "swears on his late parents and Chhatrapati Shivaji" that Shah had turned back on his promise of sharing the chief minister's post.

Shinde, meanwhile, accused Thackeray of backstabbing the BJP in 2019 and said that he is belittling PM Modi and Amit Shah who actually made Bal Thackeray's dreams come true.

"You refer to Amit Shah as Afzal Khan? He was the one who removed Article 370 in Kashmir, which was Bal Thackeray's dream. You made fun of them for not being able to complete Ram Mandir. Now the Ram mandir is getting completed and there's a due date for it. Who fulfilled Bal Thackeray's dreams? Modi and Shah did, how can you are making fun of them?" he asked.

Shinde said that Thackeray was the real gaddar as he betrayed the people's mandate that the BJP-Sena alliance got in 2019.

"Did you not ask for votes using the pictures of both Bal Thackeray and PM Modi in your campaigns?" Shinde asked.


Both Ensured Show of Strength, But Was There a Clear Winner?

The ferocity of the two speeches was unhinged. Both had the overtones of the typical Shiv Sena vocabulary - occasional use of unparliamentary words, personal attacks, and name-calling.

Both leaders began and ended their speeches specifically mentioning the outpour of supporters at both rallies, something which all eyes were set on.

Just like all other leaders of his camp, Uddhav also claimed in his address that the supporters at BKC were "paid", but the party loyalists had all turned up at Shivaji Park.

Uddhav's address packed focussed punches for close to 45-minutes, targeting Shinde and the BJP. Shinde's two-hour-long address was filled with claims his faction has been making about the rebellion, the highlights of the 100 days of his government, and several hollow claims about Uddhav's personality.

As Uddhav concluded his speech, he said: "The way Raavana disguised as a saint and kidnapped Sita, the same way, these traitors have disguised as Bal Thackeray and are here to take the Sena. Will you allow that to happen?"

While it's difficult to conclude who emerged stronger, both leaders looked unfazed, and promised to teach the other a lesson, making the battle for the party symbol more interesting than before.

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Topics:  Dasvi   Bal Thackeray   Uddhav Thackeray 

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