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The Cubs Are Fighting Fit

The Cubs Are Fighting Fit
Abhijit Bhtalekar
The Cubs Are Fighting Fit
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and president wannabe Raj Thackeray called a public truce to their public spat on August 17. Still, this doesn’t mean the two cousins have buried the hatchet altogether. The truce only means that the spats, the name-calling and their brotherly maliciousness will, once again, happen behind their respective closed doors rather than in full public glare. Sena chief Bal Thackeray, in getting them to smoke the peace pipe, has ensured at least this much.

This time round, the bad blood between the cousins started when Sanjay Raut, editor of Sena mouthpiece Saamna and Uddhav’s close confidant, termed Raj "chicken-hearted" for having fled from Konkan where he was supposed to have taken on rebel Narayan Rane’s might. Raj retorted that the party is now led by "nincompoops", people who have no work or credentials to show. His target was clearly his cousin. Ever since Uddhav’s anointment as executive president (in 2002), Raj has been steadily marginalised from all decision-making processes. For a man who saw himself as Thackeray’s natural political heir, it was galling. More so as even recent surveys among Sainiks showed they preferred Raj over Uddhav.

So will Raj revolt, was this a teaser? Revolt may be an attractive option for him, say sources, but he is really angling for room at the top within the Sena. Making noises and acting petulant is his way of demanding accommodation in the topmost echelons. It’s a re-run of a familiar business story—younger brother of a formidable empire left out in the cold, and clawing his way back. Raj stated, "We will now work together for the party" but he will want power and designation within the party. Uddhav though is unwilling to yield space. Only Balasaheb can resolve this, for only then can the truce turn into peace and cooperation between ambitious cousins.

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