Raj Thackeray ‘gags’ his men from airing views on Shiv Sena crisis

As the crisis within the Shiv Sena deepens between the two rival factions, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) President Raj Thackeray has issued a virtual ‘gag order’ banning his partymen from talking about the political upheavals in any manner to the media.

Raj Thackeray is the nephew of Shiv Sena founder the late Balasaheb Thackeray — and estranged cousin of ex-Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray — and had quit the party in 2005 to launch the MNS in 2006.

He issued an appeal to all his party leaders and workers “not to speak to the media on the issues (in Shiv Sena) or make posts on the social media”.

“None of my MNS soldiers should talk or write on any media or social media about the ongoing political developments. I will present the party’s position on all this in due course,” Raj said.

Raj is a bitter political opponent of Uddhav though he enjoys excellent relations with the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and other leaders.

In a setback to Uddhav Thackeray ahead of the upcoming Andheri East assembly by-election, the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday froze his party’s name (Shiv Sena) and symbol (bow-and-arrow).

Simultaneously, the factions led by Uddhav Thackeray and Shinde Group, were asked to submit three alternative names and symbols, which they have done, even as both parties are battling it out in the courts while the EC decision is awaited.

The Thackeray side has given a ‘Trishul’, ‘Rising Sun’ and ‘Flaming Torch’ and names ‘Shiv Sena – Prabodhan Thackeray’, ‘Shiv Sena – Balasaheb P. Thackeray’ and ‘Shiv Sena – Uddhav B. Thackeray’.

The Shinde side — which is not contesting the by-polls – is understood to have given symbols like ‘Trident’, ‘Rising Sun’ (akin to the Thackeray Group) and ‘Mace’ (against the Thackeray Group’s ‘Flaming Torch’), weaving in combinations of the late Bal Thackeray in its three name options for his faction.

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