Widespread condemnation notwithstanding, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Friday said he stuck to his remarks about Sachin Tendulkar's "Mumbai-for-Indians" stand and asked the cricket icon not to "dabble" in politics.
"I stand by what I said. The bullet has been fired . I am firm in my opinion," Thackeray said today addressing the party corporators meet at Sena Bhavan in Mumbai.
The sena chief asked Sachin not to "dabble" in politics. "He should stick to the cricket wicket and not meddle with the pitch of politics". "The right to decide who comes to Mumbai is our right, not his," the Sena chief said.
Bal Thackeray had criticised Tendulkar for his 'Mumbai-for-all' remark, saying there was no need for the cricket icon to take a "cheeky single" and "hurting" the Marathi psyche by moving to the pitch of politics.
"By making these remarks, you have got run-out on the pitch of Marathi psyche. You were not even born when the 'Marathi Manoos' got Mumbai and 105 Marathi people sacrificed their lives to get Mumbai," he said.
Thackeray expressed displeasure that Sachin "left the crease" and moved to the pitch of politics by making these remarks. In a rebuff to the 'Marathi Manoos' plank of the Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Tendulkar had said 'Mumbai is for all Indians.' "Mumbai belongs to India. That is how I look at it. And I am a Maharashtrian and I am extremely proud of that but I am an Indian first," Tendulkar had said.
“We must have a Sena mayor again, do not turn traitors,” he warned the corporators during his address. The BMC is the last bastion where the Shiv Sena is still supreme and losing the mayor's election would not only signify loss of face but also eroding power.
In 2005 after addressing a rally during the Malwan by-election Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray announced his retirement from active politics, paving the way for his son Uddhav Thackeray.
Ill-health was the reason cited for the octogenarian's moving into the shadows. But stung by the humiliating defeat in the 2009-his party had to cede even the leader of opposition post to coalition partner BJP–Thackeray has been forced to emerge from his retirement. While Uddhav holidays abroad with his family, Thackeray, putting aside niggling health issues, has stepped up for his biggest challenge: to keep the party he founded in 1966 still relevant.
On Friday, Thackeray stepped out of Matoshree to go to Sena Bhavan where he addressed corporators ahead of the mayor's election next week. “We must have a Sena mayor again, do not turn traitors,” he warned the corporators during his address. The BMC is the last bastion where the Shiv Sena is still supreme and losing the mayor's election would not only signify loss of face but also eroding power.
Earlier this month he had also addressed party MLAs again at Sena Bhavan. This is significant in light of the fact that Thackeray's last public appearance and address had been in 2006 at the inauguration of the revamped party office. He had also stopped meeting party workers and people, leaving Uddhav to take charge. But an insider reveals that now Thackeray has given instructions that party workers can meet him every day between 11 am and 12.30 pm. And again he is seeing visitors between 6 and 7.30 pm.
“On Friday he spoke for over 30 minutes and he seemed to be in complete command. He was his usual self. He told us that soon he will be holding public meetings – one at Shivaji Park and another in Thane,” said a corporator who was present at the meeting.
Thackeray also conveyed that no corporator will go abroad without seeking permission from him first. Incumbent mayor Shubha Raul was recently criticised for her numerous foreign jaunts.
“Balasaheb will continue to drop in at the Sena Bhavan. His health is much better than it was earlier. There is no need to interpret this any differently,” said senior leader Manohar Joshi trying to play down Thackeray's re-emergence in Uddhav's absence. When someone asked him about Sachin Tendulkar Thackeray reiterated in characteristic style: “The bullet that left the gun doesn't come back. He should play on cricket pitch and we will play here.” The big boy is sure back in the game.