Raj-Bal meet sparks Sena unity buzz

Barely 48 hours after Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray appealed to the people of Maharashtra to “come together” to combat the Congress-NCP combine in the 2014 elections and extend support to his son Uddhav, the estranged cousin and chief of the rival party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Raj Thackeray held an hour-long meeting on Friday with the ailing 86-year-old patriarch.

Raj went to his uncle's residence at “Matoshree,” while the media was agog with speculation of a possible burying of the hatchet between the two warring cousins, Raj insisted that it was “a courtesy call” to enquire about his Bal Thackeray's health. This was Raj Thackeray's fourth visit in recent times.

In July, the MNS chief had rushed to Lilavati Hospital, where Uddhav was admitted for an angioplasty. This was the first time that the two cousins were seen together after the vertical split in the Shiv Sena in 2005. In 2006, Raj went ahead to form MNS and since then both cousins have been hurling barbs at each other much to the concern of the old-timers. Thereafter, in the same month, Raj again visited  “Matoshree,” after news of his uncle's illness trickled out. However, notwithstanding political observers reading a “possible unification of the truncated party,” the two warring parties have maintained a safe distance and in the recently-held Nanded municipal corporation polls, the MNS refused a pre-poll alliance with the SS-RPI combine.

Shiv Sena's Dassera rally for the 45 years has been covered extensively by the local media; however, on October 25 this year, the Sena chief appeared before the crowd via a televised address; he looked emaciated and exhausted, pausing after every sentence to recover his breath.

The leader who once was known for his caustic speeches, for the first time sought help from the crowd, stating: “Take care of my son Uddhav and grandson Aditya,  the way you have supported me all these years."

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