Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray on Monday threw another dare at rebel Shiv Sena leaders to "come face to face" and tell him what they feel is wrong. Led by his father Uddhav Thackeray, the government and the party are facing a mutiny by senior leader Eknath Shinde's faction, which has around 40 of the 55 Sena MLAs.
Aaditya Thackeray's comments came as the political fight reached the Supreme Court. He called the Shinde camp "traitors, not rebels", adding, "Those who betray... never win. We are confident. We are getting a lot of love."
He also commented on Team Thackeray loyalist Sanjay Raut getting summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a case of alleged money laundering. "This is not politics; this has now become a circus," he told reporters.
Eknath Shinde's group has termed Shiv Sena's alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress "unnatural". Camping in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam, the group wants the party to restore its alliance with the BJP over a shared Hindutva ideology. The Thackeray camp has rubbished the ideology claim and said the mutiny is scripted by the BJP and its government at the Centre.
Aaditya Thackeray did not directly comment on proceedings in the Supreme Court, which refused to stop a possible "floor test" or vote in the assembly. While saying that he is confident of winning such a vote, he added, "The second floor test will be when they (rebels) sit before me, look me in the eye and say what we (party or government) did wrong."
"Those who ran away from here and are calling themselves rebels, if they wanted to rebel, they should've done it here. They should've resigned and contested elections," he added.
Asked specifically about minister Uday Samant joining the Shinde camp in Guwahati, Mr Thackeray said, "It's his decision, but he will come before us someday. He will have to look us in the eye."
He was speaking to reporters in his assembly constituency of Worli in Mumbai, where he met beneficiaries of a government housing scheme.
He had made similar comments two days ago: "If you think what we have done is wrong, Uddhav-ji's leadership is wrong and we all are wrong, then resign and face elections. We are ready."