Will he, won't he announce the big split from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Maharashtra is the question on the minds of leaders and workers of Shiv Sena and the BJP as Uddhav Thackeray is all set to address the party on Saturday. Thackeray will address hundreds of Shiv Sena workers as part of the party's annual Dussehra rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai.
The Shiv Sena, despite being an ally of the BJP, has minced no words in criticising the state as well as the central government. In fact, the party has come to be the BJP's biggest critic overtaking the Congress in Maharashtra despite being the coalition partner. The BJP's proximity to former Congress leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Narayan Rane and Friday's stampede in Mumbai that has so far claimed 23 lives have only fuelled the Shiv Sena's anger against the BJP.
This is the first massive gathering that Uddhav Thackeray would be addressing after party leader Sanjay Raut dropped hints of splitting from the BJP in the state. While it is unlikely that Thackeray would make such an announcement in a public rally, workers of both parties are expecting at least a strong attack on the BJP by the Shiv Sena's chief.
For the Shiv Sena, the opportunity, as well as the platform, is ripe to announce any big decision but Thackeray is expected to wait until the formal announcement of Rane's partnership with the BJP comes through.
Issues of economic slowdown, farm loan waiver, fuel prices, GST, inflation and now Friday's stampede is on the platter for Shiv Sena to launch attacks on the BJP, an ally that has successfully reduced Shiv Sena to a junior partner, even at the civic body levels. While Shiv Sena leaders are unsure of the big 'split' announcement, they are sure of the attack that will be launched at the BJP.