"This Time Ravan Is Different": Team Thackeray vs Team Shinde On Dussehra

The two factions of Sena -- eyeball to eyeball since the vertical split in June -- are holding what has been billed as a huge show of strength.


The big Sena versus Sena battle on the occasion of Dussehra today started off with a stern warning from former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. "Ravana will burn," Mr Thackeray told the Eknath Shinde camp, pointing to the huge crowds at Mumbai's Shivaji Park -- the traditional venue for the party's Dussehra celebration.

Mr Shinde, who held a parallel rally at the MMRDA grounds, launched a sharp counter-attack. "Do you have any moral right to even stand and speak there? You used Shiv Sainiks for your personal reason and went ahead with Congress and NCP… Balasaheb Thackeray used to run the government on remote control and you gave this remote control to NCP," he said.

The two factions of Sena, eyeball to eyeball since the split in June -- are holding what has been billed as a show of strength. For the first time since the Shiv Sena's inception 56 years ago, two Dussehra rallies are being held in Mumbai by the rival factions.

"What will happen to Shiv Sena? Seeing the crowd here, the question now is -- what will happen to the traitors? All have gathered together. Like every year, this time too Ravana will burn. But this time Ravana is different," Mr Thackeray told the crowd at Shivaji Park.

The BJP, Mr Thackeray insisted, had betrayed the Sena and this was why the alliance broke. "I swear by my parents that there was talk of half-term. Then (Union home minister) Amit Shah said nothing of the sort was decided," Mr Thackeray said.

The BJP, he added, is now in the situation they tried to avoid -- giving the top post to Shiv Sena by making Eknath Shinde the Chief Minister. "Why didn't you do it earlier?" he said.

The majority of Mr Thackeray's wrath was reserved for Mr Shinde, who, he said, had betrayed the party.

"How much should a man's greed be? He was given the Chief Minister's post. Now he wants the party too," he said, accusing the new Chief Minister of "stealing" his father.

Mr Shinde, who is fighting to claim the legacy of Balasaheb Thackeray – Uddhav Thackeray's father and the founder of Shiv Sena – had rubbed in the point this morning, quoting couplets from renowned poet Harivanshrai Bachchan.

"My son will not be my heir by being my son; whoever is my heir will be my son - Harivanshrai Bachchan," the Maharashtra Chief Minister tweeted, implying that legacy of a man need not necessarily pass onto his son.

At his parallel rally in the evening, Mr Shinde insisted that the word is not "gaddar (traitor)" but "gadar (revolution)", implying that they are revolutionaries tying to take Sena back to its Hindutva roots.

Mr Shinde had started his speech with chants of "Garv se kaho hum Hindu hai (Say proudly that we are Hindus)", underscoring his complaint that Uddhav Thackeray  had diluted the Sena ideology with tie-up with Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

The fight over the Sena's bow and arrow symbol has reached the Election Commission. The poll body said it would apply the transparent process of the "rule of majority" after the Supreme Court refused to stop it from deciding who was the "real" Shiv Sena.