In his first public address after the takeover by Eknath Shinde, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday demanded fresh elections in the state and said he would not let the rebels use the Shiv Sena's poll symbol.
"I challenge them to hold assembly elections today. If we have done wrong, people will send us home. And if this is what you had to do, then you should have done it two and half years ago, and it would have been done respectfully. There would be no need for all this to happen," Mr Thackeray said.
"No one can take the bow and arrow symbol from the Shiv Sena. However, people don't look at only the symbol, they look at the person who has taken the symbol," he said.
Mr Thackeray hit out at the rebel Shiv Sena group for staying silent when the BJP targeted and "abused" him and his family in the last two-and-a-half years. "You keep in touch with them and betray your own party like this," he said, without naming Mr Shinde.
"Some people say if they are called to Matoshree, they will come. They say they have respect for me. I am thankful. But if you had come and spoken to me, then you would not have needed to go on this tour. But now you are with people who have abused my family. They have made attacks on our reputation. So, you decide if your love and respect is real," he said about the rebels.
"I am proud of the 15-16 MLAs who are with me despite threats. This country thrives on Satyameva Jayate, not Asatyameva Jayate," he added.
Making an impassioned argument on behalf of his son, Aaditya Thackeray, who was a minister in the government, Mr Thackeray said, "They (BJP) tried to finish off my son. You are okay with sitting with them and exchanging pleasantries."
He said the Supreme Court's on Monday will decide not just the future of Shiv Sena, but also the future of Indian democracy.
The top court is set to decide on a petition seeking disqualification of 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs as well as Team Thackeray's move against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's decision to invite Eknath Shinde to form government in the state.
"We are concerned about democracy and the constitution. I have faith in the judiciary. Everyone is watching what decision the judiciary will make. People are watching to see how strong our democracy is. I am not worried about the decision. The law will take its course," he said.
"No one can take the Shiv Sena away. There is a legislature party and there is a party that works on the ground. Can you finish the party just because MLAs leave? They are trying to create a fear. Don't fall for it. Legislature party and registered party are two different things," Mr Thackeray said.
Eknath Shinde, backed by the BJP, led a coup in the Shiv Sena against party chief Uddhav Thackeray, drawing most MLAs on his side and bringing down his government.
Mr Shinde was sworn in as Maharashtra Chief Minister on June 30, with the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
Four days later, Mr Shinde sailed through a trust vote with 164 votes in the 288-member assembly, way above the simple majority mark of 144. Only 99 MLAs voted against him.
Uddhav Thackeray has lost most of his party MLAs to what started out as the rebel faction but is now the bigger group, claiming to be the real Sena.
Many corporators are also switching to Eknath Shinde's faction, weakening Uddhav Thackeray's control over Maharashtra civic bodies, the Shiv Sena's strongest domain.