Within a month of a split in the Shiv Sena, the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government and the formation of the Eknath Shinde government, family loyalty is giving way to the pull of power, as Thackeray kin are paying visits to the new chief minister. After failing to convince the party's rank and file that the Shiv Sena meant a party of Balasaheb Thackeray's kin and clan, it seems all that Uddhav Thackeray is left with are his son and himself in his faction. Many MPs and MLAs have deserted the ex-chief minister.
While announcing the key decisions made at his last cabinet meeting as the chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray had said, “While the decisions were being taken, there were only four ministers of the Shiv Sena — Anil Parab, Subhash Desai, Aaditya and I…” Now “Aaditya and I” are all that is left in his faction of the party.
But who are the Thackeray kin who are cosying up to Shinde and even his deputy, the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis?
Let's look at the family tree to get how the branches are related. Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray married Meena and had three sons — the oldest Bindumadhav, Jaidev and the youngest Uddhav. Meena died in 1995.
Thackeray family tree
Bindumadhav, nicknamed Binda, was a film producer who stayed away from politics. Among the memorable films he made was the Nana Patekar-Manisha Koirala-Jackie Shroff hit Agnisakshi. A year after his mother’s death, Bindumadhav died at the age of 42 in a car accident while returning from a holiday in Lonavala with his wife Madhavi, son Nihar and daughter Neha.
Bal Thackeray's second son Jaidev, who is not active in politics either, married Smita in 1986 and divorced in 2004. The couple has two sons — Rahul and Aaishvary.
Amid a lot of drama over succession in the party, Bal Thackeray decided to anoint Uddhav as his political heir and even gave a sword to Uddhav’s son Aaditya, indicating the party would be a dynast. That day, Aaditya entered the youth wing of the Shiv Sena with that gesture from his grandfather. Uddhav Thackeray is married to Rashmi. They have another son, Tejas.
Aaditya, besides being the tourism minister in his father’s cabinet, is also the Yuva Sena chief. Tejas is a conservationist and wildlife researcher.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is the son of Bal Thackeray’s brother Shrikant. While Raj left the party after Uddhav was made the de facto successor, he maintains that his uncle will always be his inspiration. This is notwithstanding the fact that while parting ways with the Shiv Sena, Raj Thackeray had lamented that in his generation, he was the person who worked more and better for the organisation but his uncle favoured his son over his nephew.
Power attracts Thackeray kin
Now, last week, film producer and Uddhav Thackeray’s sister-in-law Smita Thackeray met Shinde, becoming the first member of the clan as a mark of solidarity with the man who brought down the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government.
“Eknath Shinde is an old Shiv Sainik who has become the chief minister. I came here to congratulate him. I know him and his work for the past many years. It was a courtesy meeting. We have known each other for a long time, so I met him today," she told reporters after meeting Shinde at the ‘Sahyadri’ government guesthouse in south Mumbai.
Smita said about the rebellion in Shiv Sena, “I am not into politics. I know nothing about it. I am a social activist.”
Then, embarrassing Uddhav Thackeray, images of his nephew Nihar meeting Shinde surfaced in the media yesterday.
Nihar will reportedly announce his official support at former minister Uday Samant’s bungalow shortly and start his political career under the leadership of Shinde. He is the son-in-law of BJP leader Harshvardhan Patil.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shinde spoke to Uddhav Thackeray’s cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray who congratulated Shinde on Twitter.
Raj Thackeray said on TV: “Neither BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah nor Devendra Fadnavis are responsible for what happened in Maharashtra. Not even Sanjay Raut, although he appeared on television every day and said something… I told Fadnavis not to take much credit as all credit of whatever happened only goes to Uddhav Thackeray.”
Raj Thackeray congratulated Fadnavis for becoming deputy chief minister too: “I congratulate you on becoming Deputy Chief Minister… I had hoped that you would once again return as the Chief Minister of the state. But whatever happened let it be. You have proved that the order and direction of the party is above the will of the mind. I’m proud of you,” Raj Thackeray wrote.