MUMBAI: A day after CM Uddhav Thackeray's emotional appeal to try and stem the revolt in the Shiv Sena, rebel leader Eknath Shinde shared a strongly-worded letter written by Aurangabad MLA Sanjay Shirsat which said that Thackeray was unavailable and flanked by a coterie that cut off access to him. The letter also alleged Thackeray that had stopped Sena MLAs from accompanying environment minister Aaditya Thackeray to Ayodhya and that it was Sena MLAs who persuaded Shinde to revolt.
The letter addressed to Thackeray minced no words. "For the last 2.5 years, the doors of your bungalow Varsha (the CM's official residence) were closed to Shiv Sena MLAs. We had to appeal to your coterie many times," said Shirsat, who is part of the rebel faction. "Finally, we used to get a message saying we were called to Varsha. But we were made to wait at the gate for several hours. We used to get fed up and leave." It asked why MLAs, who had been elected from a constituency of 3-4 lakh voters, were insulted in this fashion.
The letter said that they could never meet Thackeray at Mantralaya since he never went there. It described his coterie as "those who do not get elected but hold MLC and Rajya Sabha positions." However, it is the coterie that was allowed to decide the strategy for the key MLC and Rajya Sabha polls and the result was there for everyone to see, the letter said. The letter said the MLAs were trumped by the Chanakyas in the coterie.
It was Sena MLAs had persuaded Shinde to revolt, Shirsat said. "His doors were always open to us. It was Shinde who helped resolve our problems. Party MLAs persuaded Shinde to take this step (or revolt) for the rights of all the legislators," Shirsat wrote.
Shirsat also said Thackeray prevented Sena MLAs from accompanying his son, Aaditya, to Ayodhya. He said they had checked in at the airport but Shinde received a call from Thackeray saying the MLAs should not be allowed to proceed to Ayodhya. "Is Hindutva an issue for the party?" the letter asked. "The Shiv Sena votes did not split in the Rajya Sabha polls, then why so much distrust in us ahead of the Legislative Council polls?" Shirsat asked.
He also said while Sena MLAs had no access to the CM, MLAs from Congress and NCP ("our real opponents") were able to meet him and get their work done. "Our voters say if the CM is from our party, why do the opponents receive funds? Since you didn't meet us, we had no answers." "Today we are with Shinde with the belief his home, which has always been open to us in difficult circumstances, will remain so. Yesterday, whatever you said made us emotional. But I did not get answers to basic questions," the letter said.