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Addressing a joint press conference, Uddhav Thackeray said his grandfather Keshav Thackeray, also known as Prabodhankar Thackeray, and Prakash Ambedkar's grandfather, legendary social icon and jurist B R Ambedkar, were contemporaries who admired each other.
Coinciding with the birth anniversary of Shiv Sena founder, the late Bal Thackeray, the faction led by his son Uddhav announced an alliance with Prakash Ambedkar's Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) on Monday.
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Addressing a joint press conference, Uddhav said his grandfather Keshav Thackeray, also known as Prabodhankar Thackeray, and Prakash Ambedkar's grandfather B R Ambedkar, were contemporaries who admired each other and worked to eradicate social evils.
"Now there are some bad practices in politics and to eradicate them, the inheritors of these two leaders, and people around them, have come together to protect the country's interest. We are coming together to ensure democracy is alive," Thackeray said.
Speaking about their alliance, which has been forged ahead of civic polls due in several key cities of Maharashtra including Mumbai and Thane, Ambedkar said the coming together of the VBA and Shiv Sena was the start of the "politics of change".
The alliance talks between the Shiv Sena and the VBA were underway for the last few months, with Ambedkar earlier saying it was up to Thackeray to make the formal announcement.
Ambedkar also said the alliance is between the Shiv Sena and the VBA for the moment, but he hoped other constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party) also join. Thackeray, however, clarified that he has not seen opposition from the two parties to the inclusion of VBA in the MVA.
Last month, the Jogendra Kawade-led People's Republican Party (PRP), which has a following among Dalits in the state, joined hands with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena.
The BJP, which is a partner in Shinde's government, is allied with the Republican Party of India (A) of Ramdas Athawale, who is also a Union minister.
The press conference saw Thackeray hitting out at BJP. Thackeray dared the BJP to hold Assembly polls in Maharashtra at the earliest. Without taking its name, he also hit out at the saffron party that rules at the state as well as centre, saying the country is heading towards autocracy.
Thackeray also defended his decision to leave the NDA in 2019.
"Mohan Bhagwat went to masjid, did he leave Hindutva? When BJP formed an alliance with PDP, did they leave Hindutva? Whatever they do is right and when we do something, we leave Hindutva, that's not right."
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP in the state has since been critical of Uddhav Thackeray, accusing him of compromising on Hindutva and leaving his father's legacy behind.
Along with the BJP, the state is being ruled by a faction of the Sena that broke away in June last year which the Thackeray group has routinely called a dispensation of "traitors".
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First Published: Jan 23, 2023 3:52 PM IST