Mumbai: With Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray intensifying attack on the rebel faction by calling them 'gaddars' (traitors), the dissidents have broken their pledge to not target any member of the Thackeray family and dubbed the former minister a "Yuvraj" (prince).
Legislators in the camp led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde feel that Aaditya Thackeray has "crossed the line" and spreading lies against them and it was high time they hit back.
On Thursday, the dissident MLAs targeted Aaditya Thackeray, former minister and son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, by displaying a banner against him on the steps of the Vidhan Bhavan on the last day of the legislature session.
The banner reads: "Yuvrajanchi disha chukli" (the prince has missed his path).
Aaditya Thackeray countered them by shouting "50 khoke, edum okay" implying that the rebel MLAs got money to switch their loyalties, leading to the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray-led tripartite MVA government in June and Shinde taking oath as the chief minister.
On Wednesday, legislators of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shinde loyalists staged a similar protest targeting former CM Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya Thackeray.
They carried banners with messages alleging corruption in the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), controlled by Shiv Sena, and claimed the Thackerays compromised on Hindutva for power.
Some banners read: "Raja (a reference to Uddhav) stayed indoors due to fear of COVID-19 while friends of the "Yuvraj" (a reference to Aaditya) looted the treasury.
They shouted slogans like "standing committee che khoke...'Matoshree' okay," alleging corruption in the BMC with the support of the Thackerays.
'Matoshree' is the private residence of the Thackerays in suburban Mumbai.
This is perhaps the first time since the MLAs revolted against the Sena leadership in June that they have targeted the Thackerays.
In the past, the rebel faction spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar had said the dissidents won't attack Uddhav and Aaditya as they hail from the Thackeray family.
Over the last few days, Aaditya Thackeray has been touring the constituencies of the rebel MLAs, dubbing them "traitors" and accusing them of stabbing his father in the back when he was ill.
The "gaddar" jibe seems to have not gone well with the rebel MLAs. Adding to the bad blood was the sloganeering by Aaditya Thackeray who was backed by Sena MLAs and some Nationalist Congress Party legislators during the recently-concluded monsoon session.
Sada Sarvankar, rebel Sena MLA from Mahim in Mumbai, said the dissidents were in no mood to take the barbs lying down.
"He (Aaditya Thackeray) calls us traitors, but it is they (the Thackerays) who backstabbed Hindutva by joining hands with the NCP and Congress. For how long are we going to listen to his barbs? We are paying back in the same coin," Sarvankar told PTI.
Sanjay Shirsat, another rebel Sena MLA, said attacking Aaditya Thackeray was necessary to "counter the lies" spread by him.
"If you cross the limit, we will also not sit quietly. We have been working with your father even before you were born. Balasaheb Thackeray's grandson (Aaditya) has been reduced to sitting on the stairs," Shirsat said.
The Aurangabad west MLA was one of the first dissidents of Shiv Sena to remove photos of Uddhav and Aaditya from his offices, saying the photos of those who dub him a traitor will not adorn his office.
Yogesh Kadam, another rebel Sena legislator representing the Dapoli assembly segment, said Aaditya Thackeray will be replied in the same coin.
"Till now we kept quiet because the surname Thackeray was involved. We did not pay heed because we respect 'Matoshree'. If you attack us, we will not keep quiet," Kadam added.
However, the Shiv Sena views it as a victory for Aaditya.
Shiv Sena's mouthpiece 'Saamana' carried a flier on its front page on Friday with a story on how the breakaway faction was compelled to sit on the stairs of the state legislature and how they were "scared" of Aaditya.