If people did not favour his party in the elections, he would accept the verdict, he said
Mumbai: Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Friday demanded mid-term elections in Maharashtra, and also asserted that nobody can take away his party's 'bow and arrow' symbol even as the rebel Sena faction has staked a claim to it.
Speaking to reporters at his residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra, Thackeray dared the rebels led by new Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the BJP to face mid-term elections, saying that people should be allowed to take a stand on the toppling of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by him.
If people did not favour his party in the elections, he would accept the verdict, he said.
Thackeray said the Supreme Court's verdict on the disqualification plea of 16 rebel MLAs, scheduled to be given on July 11, will decide not just the future of the Shiv Sena, but also of Indian democracy.
Shinde raised a banner of revolt against the party leadership last month, a move that led to the fall of the MVA government comprising Sena, NCP and Congress. A day after Thackeray resigned as chief minister on June 29, Shinde took oath of the top post with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis being sworn in as his deputy. Shinde enjoys the support of 40 out of 55 MLAs of the Sena.
Hardening his stand against the rebels, Thackeray asked how they can claim to love the 'Matoshree' and the Thackeray family if they align with those who have subjected him and his family to the worst kind of criticism and even attempted to "destroy his sons' lives".
"According to law, no one can take away the bow and arrow symbol from Shiv Sena. I am saying this after talking to constitutional experts," he said.
Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Gulabrao Patil had on Wednesday said the faction led by Shinde was the real claimant of the party's poll symbol.
Seeking to assuage the concerns of his party workers, Thackeray said people do not just look at the party symbol while voting, but also look at the person and also whether the candidate belongs to the Shiv Sena.
The Shiv Sena as a political party and a legislature party are two separate identities, he said, adding that even if just one, 50 or even 100 MLAs leave the party, it does not cease to exist.
"Confusion is being created. Legislature party and registered party are two different identities. No one can take along the party workers with them," Thackeray said.
"There should be mid-term polls. If we have made a mistake, people will not favour us and that will be acceptable to us," he said.
Earlier this week, Sena leader Sanjay Raut claimed that his party will win over 100 seats if mid-term polls are held in the state.
On Thursday, the rebel faction's spokesperson had said that if there was any possibility of reconciliation with the parent party, then Thackeray should also talk to the BJP as the dissidents have aligned with that party.
Thackeray hit out at the rebel group for keeping mum when the BJP targeted and "abused" him and his family in the last two-and-a-half years.
"You keep in touch with them and betray your own party like this," he said without naming anyone.
He wondered whether the rebel MLAs' love for him and his family was real.
You are sitting next to those who criticised the Thackeray family in the worst forms. You are hugging them. They tried to ruin my sons' lives...," he said.
He said the change of power in the state could have happened with grace and in a dignified manner in 2019 without "betrayal".
He was referring to the Sena and BJP's parting of ways after the 2019 Assembly poll results over the issue of rotational chief minister.
Thackeray said the Supreme Court's verdict on July 11 will decide not just the future of Shiv Sena but also the future of Indian democracy.
"I trust the judiciary. The Supreme Court order (on the plea for disqualification of rebel MLAs) is not restricted to Shiv Sena alone, but it will also show the direction in which the democracy is heading. The country is looking at what decision the SC gives because this will also show the future of democracy in the country and whether the four pillars of democracy are discharging their duties or now," he said.
Thackeray also said he would take a decision which candidate to support for the presidential election after consulting the party MPs. Earlier this week, Sena's Lok Sabha member Rahul Shewale urged him to direct the party MPs to vote for the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu.
During his press conference, Thackeray did not take any questions from the media.