Struggling to hold on to the Shiv Sena after being unseated as Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray suffered another setback in terms of political optics on Friday — though with riders. His nephew Nihar Thackeray, not much of a political player so far, met and pledged support to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the rebel Sena leader who’s been claiming the legacy of party founder Bal Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray’s father.
Nihar Thackeray’s father Bindumadhav Thackeray, who died in a road accident in 1996, was the eldest of Bal Thackeray’s three sons; the other two being Jaidev Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray. A film producer, he was not active in politics. And his son’s meeting now with Eknath Shinde is being seen only as a symbolic move. Jaidev Thackeray’s ex-wife, Smita Thackeray, too, had met CM Shinde recently.
Politically — and, to an extent, personally — the Thackeray family branches have not been particularly close. There were disputes over Bal Thackeray’s will, too, for some time after he died in 2012.
Nihar Thackeray, a lawyer, got married to BJP leader Harshvardhan Patil’s daughter, Ankita Patil, last December. Harshvardhan Patil is a former Congress leader who was minister for several years.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Uddhav Thackeray accused Eknath Shinde of hitting at him when he was unwell in hospital and could barely move. In an interview to his party mouthpiece ‘Saamna’, he compared the rebels to “rotten leaves” of a tree that had to be shed to make way for new leaves.
“My government is gone, the Chief Minister’s post is gone, I have no regrets. But my own people turned out to be traitors. They were trying to pull down my government when I was recovering from my surgery,” Uddhav Thackeray said. On claims by Team Shinde, he said his Shiv Sena would win the battle in courts and on the streets.