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Raj Thackeray resigns from Shiv Sena posts

Special Correspondent

Says he will not join any party and will always respect his uncle



SEEKING A CHANGE: Raj Thackeray at a Press conference in Mumbai on Sunday. photo: vivek bendre

MUMBAI: Raj Thackeray on Sunday resigned from his position as Shiv Sena leader and also as president of the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena (BVS), the party's student wing.

Announcing this at a public meeting outside his house, a tearful Raj Thackeray, who is Sena leader Bal Thackeray's nephew, said that for 10 years he had suffered a lot in the party. He had a difficult time and there was a limit to his tolerance. However, he would always have the greatest respect for his uncle.

He clarified that he was not going to join any other party. Mr. Raj Thackeray was expected to resign after a letter he sent to Mr. Bal Thackeray, expressing his unhappiness over the way the recent Malvan by-election was handled. He blamed Udhav Thackeray, the party executive president, and his supporters for the defeat and said he should be removed from the post.

He said he had given deep thought to his decision and had done everything he could to reconcile himself to the situation but things had become intolerable. He said he did not wish to blame anyone for this but could not work in such an environment. Hundreds of Raj Thackeray's supporters thronged the tree-lined lane outside his residence in Shivaji Park here. Since morning, there was much slogan shouting in anticipation of his resignation.

Mr. Raj Thackeray returned on Sunday afternoon from Nashik, where he had gone to visit the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi. Hordes of Shiv Sainiks waving saffron flags lined the roads, showing their support for him.

His arrival at the public meeting created a stir: slogans rent the air and giant saffron flags were raised as supporters tried to get as close they could to their youthful leader. The former Lok Sabha speaker, Manohar Joshi and Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut came to meet Mr. Raj Thackeray.

Mr. Joshi told the media that he still hoped the issue could be resolved as Mr. Raj Thackeray had not officially quit the party. However, the crowd raised slogans against Mr. Raut, Mr. Joshi and Subhash Desai, the party MLA and spokesperson.

Announcing his resignation, Mr. Raj Thackeray said he was not even born when the Sena was formed but had seen it from when he was very young, and had never imagined that things would come to such a pass.

Since 1988, he has been an office-bearer of the party. He said he had no desire to see the end of the party but was not going to tolerate the way it was being managed by "four karkuns (clerks)." When he did not He said he had obeyed the Sena leader and had not demanded anything for himself or his supporters. He said his decision to quit was not connected with any post he was seeking. He had recommended that Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, his cousin, be made executive president but that was a decision he was to rue later, he added.

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