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Thackeray signals end of active role in Shiv Sena

Source: PTI
November 17, 2005 20:57 IST
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Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray on Thursday signalled an end to his active role in the monolith organisation that he has run with an iron fist for the last four decades.

"Henceforth, I will function as chief of the party's advisory board", Thackeray said at a press conference at Mumbai mayor Datta Dalvi's residence.

"As announced at yesterday's rally at Malwan, I have decided that from now on, I will only address the Dussehra rally," the Sena chief said. "Age is not on my side. My strength is also a factor," the 79-year-old politician added.

Asked if his decision meant that he was stepping down as Sena chief, Thackeray quipped, "Then I might as well go back to my earlier profession, that of a cartoonist." Asked whose cartoon he would draw first, he told the reporter, "yours."

Political observers say nothing much should be read into the Sena chief's remarks about his new advisory role as his son Uddhav, in his capacity as the party's executive president, is already handling the day-to-day affairs of the Sena.

Asked if his announcement meant his famed 'remote control' would be passed on from him, Thackeray said, "I will continue to have the remote control."

Replying to a query about the 'vacuum' created in the party, which has thrived on his firebrand leadership, following his decision, Thackeray pointed to senior Sena leaders including Uddhav, former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi and others and said "these people will fill the vacuum."

Thackeray also took pains to explain the absence of his nephew Raj at the party rally on Wednesday, saying, "I have advised Raj not to come here due to his back pain."

The Sena chief said the exit of Narayan Rane, who is Congress nominee in the Malwan assembly bypoll, would not affect Shiv Sena. "Earlier also, people like him have gone out but the party will not be affected," he said.

Meanwhile, referring to Thackeray's statement that he would be chief of party's advisory board, Sanjay Raut, Sena member and executive editor of party mouthpiece 'Saamna', told PTI that the Sena chief's remarks should be seen in a lighter vein. "It is his style," Raut added.

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