In a startling revelation, Shiv Sena president and ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said that when he was critical and battling for life in a hospital for his spinal issues, the rebels actively hatched a conspiracy to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
During his hospitalisation in November 2021 for his neck and spine problems, Thackeray underwent two surgeries in a space of a week, but the anxious family had not disclosed then that the pater-familias was practically pushed into the jaws of death.
"I avoid talking about that terrible experience as I don't want any sympathy. After my first surgery (Nov. 2021), I recovered well, but after a week or so, I developed some blood clot, and lost all movements below my neck," Thackeray said, in a marathon interview to the party mouthpiece 'Saamana' and 'Dopahar Ka Saamana'.
Virtually paralysed then, the doctors diagnosed it as a blood clot and suggested emergency procedures... In what is termed the 'golden hour', I was operated successfully and that's why I am here before you today.
During that period, I had lost complete mobility including my arms and legs," the Sena chief said.When Thackeray lay immobile, the (future) rebels were apparently hyper-active and were working against the Shiv Sena's interests, amid canards being spread that "he (Uddhav Thackeray) would never recover again", and while some wished he should not bounce back, there were thousands of commoners who prayed for his quick recuperation.
"This was the time when I had entrusted them (then minister and current Chief Minister Eknath Shinde) as the No. 2, to look after the party... When I needed them most, they were busy hatching a plot to bring me down.
This painful truth will remain with me for my entire life...," said Thackeray with a bitter tinge in his voice.He said after he had handed the second-in-command position (to Shinde), "you killed that trust and betrayed the faith to handle the party during my absence".
Referring to the breakaway faction which ultimately formed the new government with support of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on June 30 - as being the 'real Shiv Sena' and proclaiming their faith and loyalty to Balasaheb Thackeray, Thackeray sounded amused.
"Now, they want to 'steal' other peoples' fathers also... beccause they have no worthy idols to look up to! They did the same with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose... Their intention is to destroy Shiv Sena by delinking it from the Thackerays, just as they are attempting to do with the Congress to sever it from the Gandhi family," said Thackeray sharply.
He accused the BJP of spending "thousands of crores of rupees" to topple the MVA government of Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress, and dared the rebels to face the elections."Now, they say it was a mistake to ally with the NCP-Congress...
If the BJP had kept its promise in 2019, the present crisis would not have arisen... There would be no need for a 'Bharat darshan' or spending thousands of crores of rupees... All this would have happened with dignity," reiterated Thackeray, referring to the June 20 revolt which spanned across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Goa and then back home.
The Sena chief's candid remarks came in a marathon interview with the Saamana Group Executive Editor Sanjay Raut, MP and the party's Chief Spokesperson.