As Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray on Monday collected his father Bal Thackeray’s ashes from Shivaji Park, a day after the funeral, his estranged cousin Raj Thackeray stayed away from the ritual, though the two were seen together for a brief while on Sunday at the funeral.
Uddhav, along with Sena leaders, reached the Park in the morning to collect the ashes which will be immersed in rivers across the country on Friday. The ashes of Bal Thackeray will be taken across the state and the country for people to pay their last respects for the next two days.
The Shiv Sena will be holding a programme on Tuesday where the urns containing the ashes will be given to all district chiefs and state heads of the party to be taken back to their respective centres. The ashes will be subsequently immersed in all the major rivers at Harihareshwar, Nashik, Haridwar, Varanasi and Kanyakumari on November 23. Uddhav is expected to immerse the ashes in Nashik on November 23, said a party release.
On Sunday, Raj stepped out of the Thackeray’s residence and was overseeing the preparations while Uddhav and his son Aaditya carried the casket with the body out of their home.
As the procession began to move from the residence, Uddhav joined his family on the truck to accept the condolences, while Raj and his wife Sharmila walked along for a brief while. Raj later returned home halfway through the procession, with MNS leaders saying that he wanted to avoid a visit to the Sena headquarters. The body was to be kept in Sena Bhawan for a while before being taken to Shivaji Park for the funeral.
Raj who lives along the periphery of Shivaji Park reached the ground just before the body was brought there. He was standing along with Uddhav on stage to receive condolences from visiting dignitaries and leaders. He later participated in certain rituals during the funeral.
Over the past 10 days, Raj made repeated visits to ‘Matoshree’ to call upon the Sena patriarch. Six years ago, Raj had split from the Shiv Sena complaining of a coterie around Bal Thackeray. He was refrained from using Bal Thackeray’s images on posters. Earlier this year, when Uddhav was rushed to Lilavati Hospital for an emergency operation for heart blockage, Raj was by his side and drove him to his residence