Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday targetted the Election Commission over allotting the party's name and symbol to the rebel faction and termed the poll body a "slave" of people in power.
Dubbing the EC a "chuna lagav" commission weeks after losing the party name and election symbol "bow and arrow" to the faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Thackeray said the poll body can never take away the party, founded by his father late Bal Thackeray, from him.
He said it was Bal Thackeray who stood with the Bharatiya Janata Party when it was politically "untouchable", and dared the former ally to seek votes in Maharashtra only in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi without invoking the Thackeray senior.
"You (the Election Commission) have taken away the party name and the symbol from us, but you can't take away Shiv Sena from me," the former chief minister said pointing out a huge turnout at a rally, his first after losing the party name and election symbol.
"I have nothing to offer to you. I have come to seek your blessings and support," he told the gathering.
Khed constituency in Ratnagiri district in the coastal Konkan region is the home turf of former Thackeray loyalist Ramdas Kadam, who has switched allegiance to the Shinde-led faction.
In a big blow to Uddhav Thackeray, the Election Commission last month allotted the name ‘Shiv Sena’ and its poll symbol to the group led by Shinde who has the support of most of the MLAs of Shiv Sena.
Thackeray said he didn't accept the EC's decision.
"If the Election Commission is not suffering from cataract, it should come and see the ground situation. The EC is a 'chuna lagav' commission and a slave of those in power. The principle based on which the EC took this decision is wrong,' he said.
Thackeray said the party has appealed in the Supreme Court.
He said the BJP was trying to finish off Shiv Sena brutally and cruelly but won't succeed.
He said the move to destroy Shiv Sena was akin to the attack on the unity of Marathi people as well as Hindus.
"When BJP was untouchable in politics, Balasaheb Thackeray stood by that party," the former chief minister said.
He said earlier sadhus and sants used to be part of the BJP but the party is now full of opportunists.
"The largest number of corrupt people are in BJP. First, they (BJP) accuse the people in the Opposition of corruption. However, those accused of corruption are then inducted into BJP," he said.
Dismissing the criticism that he did not venture out of his house when he was the chief minister (November 2019-June 2022), Thackeray said, "I didn't go out because of the COVID pandemic but I worked from home, and my work was praised during the pandemic".
He said his supporters will decide whether they want him as the party president and not the Election Commission.
"People will have to decide whether they want me or Eknath Shinde. I will accept the verdict of the people but not of the EC. If people say they don't want me, I will leave just like I had left 'Varsha' (the official residence of Maharashtra chief minister after resigning from the post"), he said.
Targetting BJP, he said like Eknath Shinde who "stole" my (Uddhav Thackeray's) father, the BJP has "stolen sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose because that party has no icons to bank on".
" When you see someone with a bow and arrow, he is a thief. Will you vote for him (a reference to Shinde)?" he asked the audience.
"Earlier, the BJP's dais used to be full of sadhus and sants but now it is full of opportunists. I dare the BJP to seek votes in Maharashtra only in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and not Balasaheb Thackeray," Thackeray added.
He appealed to his supporters to make BJP bite the dust in the elections in Maharashtra.
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