If Our Faction Isn’t Recognised, Shiv Sena Rebel Deepak Kesarkar

Guwahati: The battle for control of the Shiv Sena has come down to who will carry forward the legacy of Bal Thackeray, the party’s founder and the father of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, who the Mr Thackeray faction has pointed out as the ringleader of a group of nearly 40 rebel MLAs holed up at a hotel in faraway BJP-ruled Assam, has named MLA Deepak Kesarkar as the spokesperson of his new faction, which they have christened “Shiv Sena Balasaheb” to mean the “ideal Shiv Sena as envisaged by Bal Thackeray”.

The faction has demanded recognition, which can only come from the Election Commission.

“We have the numbers, but we respect Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and our faction won’t merge with any other party,” Mr Kesarkar told reporters today in Guwahati, where BJP sources have told NDTV that close aides of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are helping with logistics but not taking part in any internal discussions of the rebel Sena MLAs.

“If recognition isn’t given to our faction, we will go to court and prove our numbers,” Mr Kesarkar said, adding the rebel MLAs won’t quit the Sena but will carry on the legacy of “Balasaheb”.

On a question by reporters whether the Shiv Sena, and not the faction, is the one that has a direct link with the legacy of the Chief Minister’s father and the faction would not be a true representation of the party, Mr Kesarkar said, “This is a constitutional struggle. We are not leaving Balasaheb’s ideology. We didn’t do anything wrong or illegal.”

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