Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his predecessor Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday accused each other of betrayal as the Shiv Sena groups headed by them held Dussehra rallies in Mumbai.
While Uddhav Thackeray said that as per the yearly tradition, the Ravana Dahan ceremony will be done but the Ravana is different this year labelling rebel Eknath Shinde as 'Katappa', the latter responded saying even the Katappa had self respect but was not double standard like him.
Thackeray branded Shinde and his supporters as traitors for teaming up with the BJP to wrest power, the latter said Thackeray had betrayed people of Maharashtra who voted for the Sena and BJP to form an alliance government, by teaming up with Congress and NCP after 2019 Assembly elections.
Thackeray made speech at Shivaji Park in Mumbai
Thackeray made an hour-long speech at Shivaji Park ground, where his party has been holding the Dussehra rallies since its inception half a century ago, while Shinde addressed the crowd for an hour and a half at a bigger ground at Bandra Kurla Complex.
Shinde asked Uddhav to apologise for going against ideals
Shinde asserted his rebellion was not an act of "betrayal", but a "revolt" and asked Uddhav Thackeray to kneel down at party founder Bal Thackeray's memorial and apologise for going against his ideals and aligning with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Shinde said voters in the state elected the Shiv Sena and the BJP in the 2019 Assembly elections, but Thackeray "betrayed" people by joining hands with the Congress and the NCP to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
He said massive crowds at his Dussehra rally was proof enough to show who are true inheritors of Bal Thackeray's legacy.
Shiv Sena not private limsted company, says Shinde
Slamming Thackeray, Shinde, who heads the rebel faction of the party, said the Shiv Sena was not a “private limited company” and maintained the 56-year-old outfit was built through hard work of common Sena workers.
The chief minister stoutly defended his rebellion against Thackeray's leadership in June that brought down the MVA government.
Shinde asserted his rebellion was not an act of "betrayal" (gaddari), but a revolt (gadar).
The Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena has often targeted rebels as "traitors".
Uddhav's brother Jaidev Thackeray also attended Shinde-camp rally
The rally was attended by Jaidev Thackeray, brother of Uddhav Thackeray, and his estranged wife Smita Thackeray.
Nihar Thackeray, grandson of late Bal Thackeray, also attended the rally besides Champa Singh Thapa, a long-time personal aide of the Sena founder.
Thackeray mounted a scathing attack on Shinde and his supporters, saying their reputation as "traitors" will never be washed away.
Thackeray lashed out at Shinde, whose rebellion in June this year brought down the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government in the state.
"As time changes, Ravan's face also changes. Today, it is the traitors (who are Ravan). When I was unwell and underwent a surgery, I had given the responsibility to him (Shinde). But he conspired against me thinking I will never stand up on my feet again," the former chief minister said.
The Shiv Sena does not belong to one person, but it belongs to all loyal Sena workers, Thackeray said, adding, "If you feel I should not remain the Sena president, I will quit.
"There is a limit to lust for power... After the act of treachery, he now wants the party, its symbol and also wants to be called the party president," Thackeray said, targeting Shinde.
He formed a post-poll alliance with Congress and NCP to teach the BJP a lesson for breaking its promises, Thackeray said.
When Uddhav said he 'swear on his parents...'
"I swear on my parents that it had been decided that the BJP and Shiv Sena will share the chief minister's post for two and a half years," Thackeray said.
The Sena had parted ways with the ally BJP after 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls over the post of chief minister.
Thackeray also said he did not need lessons on Hindutva from the BJP.
"BJP leaders visited (then Pakistan prime minister) Nawaz Sharif on his birthday without invitation and bowed before Jinnah's grave," he said.
He also accused the BJP of raising the Hindutva issue to divert attention from poverty, unemployment and inflation.
"RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale has shown BJP the mirror," he said, referring to Hosabale's statement about the challenges of rising income inequality and unemployment.
Facing a grave challenge of retaining control over the party founded by his father late Bal Thackeray, Uddhav sought support and strength from the Sena cadre, saying the party will bounce back.
"Today I have nothing. But with your support the Shiv Sena will rise again. I will make a Shiv Sena worker chief minister again. We have to defeat the traitors in every election," he said, in apparent reference to the November 3 Assembly byelection in Andheri East here.
Thackeray took a 'Bahubali' jibe at Shinde and compared him to the character 'Katappa' in the film.
Uddhav said, "The only thing I feel bad and angry about is that when I was admitted to the hospital, the people whom I gave the responsibility (of the state) became 'Katappa' and betrayed us... They were cutting me and thinking that I will never return from hospital."
(With inputs from PTI)