Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray Monday drove Shiv
Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, activists of both
parties here wondered whether he succeeded in driving right into
the heart of his ailing, estranged cousin.
Covering a distance of two km, a concerned Raj drove a
feeble-looking Uddhav from Lilavati Hospital in Bandra West, where
Uddhav was admitted after he complained of chest pain, to Shiv
Sena chief Bal Thackeray's residence in Bandra East - sparking off
speculation whether the two cousins would go together a longer
way, both in enhanced family relations and politics.
However, leaders from both sides are keeping their fingers crossed
on the developments and are cautious about forecasting what
direction Monday's family gesture could take in the coming months.
"It was a very warm gesture on Raj Saheb's part to come and visit
Uddhavji at the hospital," a Shiv Sena leader said, but clammed
shut when asked about the political significance of the meeting.
Ditto has been the reaction from Raj's party. While a leader said
that it was a normal concern and courtesy that one would expect
from family members during a medical emergency, it would be
premature to resort to "any wild political speculation" at this
However, the relaxed attitude with which Raj, 45, received Uddhav,
51, in the waiting vehicle outside the hospital, their smiles and
friendly gestures before the waiting supporters, was not lost on
leaders and activists on both the sides.
Though Raj has not completely severed his relations with the
Thackerays and has been meeting them occasionally after parting
ways to form his own party six years ago, this is the first time
in over four years that he met cousin Uddhav in full public glare.
Maharashtra cabinet minister Harshwardhan Patil of the Congress
said it would be improper to make political speculations over the
"In our culture, we forget all differences and go to help anybody
who is not well. This is how we should see it," Patil said.
It was in 2004 that Bal Thackeray, 86, handed over the party's
reins to his photographer son Uddhav, which apparently angered his
cartoonist nephew Raj.
Though Raj did not make public his unhappiness at that time and
continued to reluctantly work for the party, a couple of years
later, he walked out of the Shiv Sena and 'Matoshri' - the
residence of Bal Thackeray - to his own private residence in
Shivaji Park, central Mumbai.
In 2006, Raj founded the MNS - indicating that the split between
the two cousins was permanent.
Harping on virtually the same policies and principles on which the
Shiv Sena was built, the MNS managed to inflict heavy damage on
the former in elections in the state.
Party leaders said Raj's gesture Monday endeared him to one and
all in the Shiv Sena and many in the MNS - comprising mostly the
Sena rebels or discards - also heaved a sigh of relief at the
easing of tension in the state's numero uno political family.
It remains to be seen whether the improved family relations also
reflect on the two parties which are attempting to achieve similar
goals, but from different platforms.