Rival Shiv Sena Factions Clash on Dussehra 2023: Uddhav Thackeray Takes a Dig, Eknath Shinde Accuses of Betrayal
Dussehra, a festival signifying the triumph of good over evil, witnessed a political face-off in Mumbai as leaders from two rival factions of the Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, held separate events at Shivaji Park and Azad Maidan, respectively. The day turned into a platform for political sparring as Uddhav Thackeray accused Shinde’s faction of attempting to “steal” the Shiv Sena, while Shinde fired back, accusing Thackeray of betraying the Hindutva ideology of the late Shiv Sena founder, Balasaheb Thackeray.
Uddhav Thackeray Challenges Shinde’s Faction
Uddhav Thackeray, speaking at the annual Dussehra rally of his faction, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), held at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai, opened with a pointed reference to Eknath Shinde and his faction’s actions. He accused them of trying to “steal” the Shiv Sena and challenged them to conduct polls to determine the real Sena.
“We will definitely bring our government. But mind you, once we are in power, we will not leave the one who is working in pressure of this government. We will hang them upside down,” Thackeray warned the Shinde faction. He emphasized that his faction is ready to establish its dominance in the Shiv Sena.
In a direct challenge to Shinde’s faction, Thackeray stated, “We approached the Supreme Court on MLAs’ disqualification matter, and the Assembly Speaker said the decision in this regard would be taken in a time-bound manner. I want to tell them to forget this matter. Conduct elections, and the people of Maharashtra will tell you who is the real Shiv Sena. I challenge you to conduct elections if you have the power.”
Uddhav also targeted the BJP, his friend-turned-foe
Thackeray also targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with which he had a political alliance that eventually soured. He expressed his opinion on the need for a new government in the nation, one built upon alliances rather than absolute majority.
“The BJP or (its predecessor) Jana Sangh played no role in any struggle, including that for the country’s freedom,” Thackeray remarked.
Eknath Shinde’s Accusations
Meanwhile, Eknath Shinde held his own Dussehra rally at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai, where he launched a scathing attack on Uddhav Thackeray. Shinde accused Thackeray of betraying the Hindutva ideology of the late Shiv Sena founder, Balasaheb Thackeray.
Shinde also claimed that after the Election Commission of India granted his faction the party symbol and name, Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) demanded Rs 50 crore that the undivided party had collected through donations. Shinde stated that he received a call about this demand and “gave away the money in a minute.” This financial dispute became a focal point of the feud between the two factions.
Moreover, Shinde criticized Uddhav Thackeray’s political alliances with the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, alleging that these alliances were betraying the core Hindutva values that the Shiv Sena once stood for. He pointed out that Balasaheb Thackeray had famously given the slogan ‘Garv se kaho hum Hindu hai’ (Say with pride, we are Hindus) from Shivtirth (Shivaji Park ground), but now slogans like ‘Garv se kaho hum Congress and Samajwadi hai’ (Say with pride, we are from the Congress and Samajwadi Party) were emerging from the same venue, indicating a significant shift in the party’s ideology.
“Won’t be surprised if they (Shiv Sena-UBT) ally with Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM and even “hug terrorist organisations such as Hamas, Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba for their selfish motives and chair (power)”, PTI quoted the Maharashtra CM as saying.
Summing up the battle of rallies between the two Shiv Sena factions in the country’s financial capital
Dussehra became the backdrop for a political showdown in Mumbai, with Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde engaging in a war of words. Thackeray accused Shinde’s faction of attempting to steal the Shiv Sena and challenged them to hold elections to determine the real Sena. He also distanced himself from his previous alliance with the BJP, advocating for a government built on alliances rather than an absolute majority.
In contrast, Shinde accused Thackeray of betraying the party’s Hindutva values by forming alliances with the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. He also shed light on a financial dispute between the two factions regarding the funds collected by the undivided party. The festivity of Dussehra took on a political dimension as these leaders exchanged barbs and aired their grievances, setting the stage for a fractured Shiv Sena in the political landscape.