MUMBAI: In probably the first of such instance in the past 50 years history of the Shiv Sena, party chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday tendered a public apology for publishing an objectionable cartoon in party mouthpiece Saamana last Sunday.
“As the president of the Shiv Sena and the editor of Saamana, I apologise to all mothers and sisters, who may have felt hurt by the cartoon. I want to make it clear that the cartoon never intended to disrespect anybody,” Thackeray said.Thackeray also thanked people of Maharashtra for “showing faith in the Shiv Sena and not letting the controversy escalate”. “The controversy over the cartoon has died down, but I’m still disturbed. I was deeply hurt as the controversy broke, because, a true Shiv Sainik would never humiliate a women,” he said.
He also made it clear that the apology was not due to any pressure. He said that a party delegation met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday and demanded a special session of the state Legislature to discuss the demands of Marathas. Sambhaji Brigade, one of the organisations behind organising the protest marches demanding quota for Maratha community, said they did not want any politics to be played over the issue and said that with Thackeray’s apology the issue now stands closed.
However, the opposition parties termed Thackeray’s apology as “too little too late”. “Had he apologised on the first day itself, nobody would have been able to escalate the issue,” NCP leader and leader of opposition in legislative council Dhananjay Munde said. Leader of opposition in the legislative Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said he should have apologised to the entire community. “His apology now only shows his frustration over the reaction of Maratha community,” he said.
The cartoon mocking Maratha protests has left the party politically isolated with leaders across party lines, including its ally BJP, and from even some Sena leaders, criticising it.