Sanjay Raut, a Rajya Sabha MP and a key leader of the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, visited the Siddhivinayak Temple here to seek blessings of Lord Ganesh soon after his release from the Arthur Road Jail on Wednesday evening.
Raut was accompanied by his brother, MLA Sunil Raut, and party leaders during his visit to the iconic temple in Prabhadevi in central Mumbai.
The parliamentarian also visited a Hanuman temple in south Mumbai and the Bal Thackeray memorial in Shivaji Park.
Raut was released from jail at around 6.50 pm, but he could only reach his residence in Nahur in northeast Mumbai at around 10.30 pm.
The senior politician’s bungalow was decorated with lights and hundreds of his supporters gathered outside his home to welcome him as they burst firecrackers and played DJ music.
The 60-year-old Rajya Sabha member was arrested on August 1 by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case linked to a housing project in suburban Goregaon.
In a show of strength, hundreds of workers of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) had gathered outside the Arthur Road Jail in central Mumbai carrying saffron flags.
There was a long queue of cars belonging to party workers waiting for Raut’s release.
The moment he stepped out of the prison, where he was lodged for more than three months, Raut was given a rousing welcome by Shiv Sena (UBT) activists. They raised slogans in favour of Raut as well as party chief Uddhav Thackeray, smeared ‘gulal’ on each other and furiously beat drums.
The Rajya MP, who had draped a saffron stole around his neck, waived and greeted people gathered outside the jail.
Talking to reporters, Raut said the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav Thackeray was the “real” party that was founded by the late Bal Thackeray.
The only Sena which is real is the one which was founded by Balasaheb Thackeray and now being led by Uddhav Thackeray, he said.
He said the current political scenario in the state, where a revolt in the Shiv Sena led to a change in government in June, was temporary .
The saffron flag which has been fluttering atop the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) for the last 30 to 35 years will continue. Those who dare to touch it will be reduced to ashes with the ‘maashal’ (Uddhav Thackeray faction’s symbol of flaming torch).
Raut said he spoke to party chief Uddhav Thackeray. He could feel that Thackeray’s voice had become heavy during the conversation, implying that the two had turned emotional.
On his way to the temple, party workers at every possible junction waited for his cavalcade that comprised motorbikes and private vehicles.
Reacting to Raut’s release, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader and former minister Aaditya Thackeray said, “The tiger is back. He was put in jail, but he didn’t flee the way 40 “traitors” fled (a reference to rebel Sena MLAs).”
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