Shiv Sena workers will attend his Dussehra rally in Mumbai in huge numbers, asserted Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Sunday, even as a separate rally held by his rival Uddhav Thackeray is likely to make the events a show of strength amid a legacy dispute.
The Shinde faction has the majority to prove before the Election Commission its claim over the party, he further told NDTV.
The latest point of friction between the Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray camps was the Dussehra rally, with both the factions demanding the Shivaji Park in Mumbai as the venue. The Bombay high court has allowed the Thackeray camp to hold its rally at the park, while the Shinde faction will hold theirs at the BKC grounds in the city.
Mr Shinde said preparations are in full swing for his rally that will be attended by "lakhs of people" from all across Maharashtra. On whether the party workers will be confused over the two separate rallies amid the legacy dispute, he invoked the ideology of party founder Balasaheb Thackeray.
"Ideas are important and we are taking forward the ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray. We are taking his role forward. That's why we are getting support from the people. The response I get from people wherever I go shows that they accepted us and therefore they will come in huge numbers," he said.
He, however, denied that this will be a show of strength by his government.
"We don't show any strength anywhere. We are just working for the people. People know who is doing the real work. They know that we deliver what we speak. Our role is clear - to take forward this state and the common people of this state. We are doing the work of aapla manus (our people)," said the Chief Minister.
On speculations that Mr Thackeray's personal assistant Milind Narvekar will join his faction, he refused to give a direct answer. The Chief Minister said he had no such conversation with Mr Narvekar.
The Thackeray and Shinde factions have been fighting over the election symbol of the party, a significant aspect that will decide which camp is the "real" Shiv Sena. The Supreme Court has left it for the Election Commission to decide the matter. Mr Shinde, however, is confident that the numbers are in his favour and that they are in majority.
"In a democracy, there is a constitution, law, and rule. The majority is of great importance. We have 40 out of (Shiv Sena) 55 MLAs supporting us, besides 10 independent MLAs. We have 12 out of 18 MPs. Fourteen heads of state across the country are with us, lakhs of people are with us. The majority is clear," he said.
He further said that his faction and the BJP will fight all upcoming local body elections together, including in Mumbai.
On multiple allegations, including the one by Congress leader Ashok Chavan that he wanted to join his party in 2017, he said the Opposition and rivals making such accusations are afraid as he is a chief minister who works on the ground.