Addressing a rally at Khed in Ratnagiri district from the same venue where Thackeray had addressed a gathering a fortnight ago, Shinde said he was the true inheritor of the legacy of Bal Thackeray, founder of Shiv Sena.
The Election Commission recently recognised the faction led by Shinde as the Shiv Sena and allotted it the “bow and arrow” poll symbol.
Shinde, whose coup against Uddhav Thackeray had split the Shiv Sena last year and toppled the MVA government led by Thackeray, said he had never seen a leader who conspires with other political parties to destroy the political careers of his own people.
He took the names of Raj Thackeray (MNS chief) and Narayan Rane among others, who had quit Shiv Sena a long time ago.
”How will the party grow in such a situation? I am not ‘gaddar’ (traitor) but ‘khuddar’ (a self-respecting person). Uddhav Thackeray doesn’t have the right to call us traitors,” he said.
Senior leaders like Gajanan Kirtikar, Ramdas Kadam and others had worked shoulder to shoulder with Balasaheb to strengthen the Shiv Sena, but you call them traitors. “There is a limit to exercise restrain,” Shinde added.
“I am not a chief minister who gives orders sitting at home but I believe in going to the field during the time of crisis. I was infected with the coronavirus twice. I have always worked on the field, but you call me a traitor,” he said targetting Thackeray.
Thackeray was accused by the Opposition BJP and the Shinde camp of running the government from the comfort of his private residence in Mumbai during his tenure as the chief minister when the pandemic had wreaked havoc.
“Uddhav Thackeray may be the heir to Balasaheb Thackeray’s wealth but not to the ideology which he has mortgaged to the Congress and the NCP to become the chief minister (in November 2019). I am the inheritor of Balasaheb’s ideology and legacy,” Shinde said.
He said Uddhav Thackeray should know that Balasaheb was much bigger than just being his (Uddhav’s) father and he should stop harping on the same to gain “sympathy”.
“I don’t want your wealth. Balasaheb may be your father but don’t keep harping on that to gain sympathy. Balasaheb was much bigger than just being your father,” Shinde charged.
He also targeted the Congress party and said Shiv Sainiks need to choose between Rahul Gandhi “who can’t win state elections and cannot take responsibility for his party and the nationalist and patriotic prime minister Narendra Modi”.