Hitting out at Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister and rebel camp leader Eknath Shinde has said if he and his supporters had been traitors, they would not have received enormous support from the state's people. Speaking at a rally at Saswad in the Pune district, Shinde said the stand taken by him and other Shiv Sena MLAs supporting him "to save Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sena" was vindicated by people's support.
Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose coalition government collapsed in June after Shinde's rebellion, has been lambasting Shinde and others, calling them "gaddar" or traitors. Despite being in power, the Sena was consigned to the fourth spot in local body elections in the state (when Thackeray was chief minister), said Shinde.
The Nationalist Congress Party and Congress, who were supposed to be out of power after losing the 2019 Assembly election, received a "sanjivani butee" (new lease of life) due to their alliance with the Sena, he said.
"Had the Shiv Sena-BJP government been formed (in 2019), NCP and Congress would not have survived," said Shinde, who became chief minister on June 30 with the BJP's support. "Not only people from the state but people across the country took note of this development," he said, referring to his and other Sena legislators' rebellion against Thackeray.
It was a "historic event and even the world took note, asking who are these 50 people, who is Eknath Shinde," he said. The chief minister then asked the gathering if he and other MLAs were rebels ("Band-khor").
"Are we rebels, traitors? If we were rebels or traitors, would we get support from the common people of the state? Would you come (to the rally) in such a large number? It means our stand of saving Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sena was accepted by the people of the state," he said.
Shinde also said he doesn`t need an election symbol to get elected by the people asserting that they only forged a natural alliance of Shiv Sena once again. "Who betrayed whom? We or someone else? We just forged the natural alliance of Shiv Sena once again and this Govt is a govt of the people," he said.