NAGPUR, Maharashtra —The Pawars and the Thackerays are two most prominent and powerful families in Maharashtra. Each family heads a powerful regional political outfit and have been ruling the state alternatively since the 1990s.
After Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's death, his son Udhhav became the supremo of the ultra-right outfit.
Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party claims to be a secular, progressive outfit but it has often been accused of opportunism, especially after it offered an outside support to the BJP government after 2014 Maharashtra elections.
Pawar is alive and extremely active in politics but his party in Maharashtra is now dominated by his nephew Ajit Pawar, popularly known as Ajit Dada.
Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar often clashed politically but their close friendship in personal life was an open secret.
But the second generation doesn't seem to be following their footsteps.
For over two weeks now, the state is witnessing a verbal duel between Uddhav Thackeray and Ajit Pawar and rather than subsiding, it is escalating.
The verbal dual began when Ajit Pawar taunted Uddhav on his proposed Ayodhya trip.
When Uddhav attacked Modi government on Ram Temple issue and announced that he would travel to Ayodhya in November to raise the issue of construction of the temple, Ajit Pawar said, "Those who failed to construct a memorial of their own father, are harping about constructing Ram Temple in Ayodhya."
This prompted a strong reaction from Uddhav, who called Ajit Pawar a "gutter insect" in an editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Samana.
"Ajit Pawar doesn't have any importance in Maharashtra's politics. He is only enjoying the fruits of his uncle's hard work. Ajit Pawar has an empty brain and we don't give a damn to what comes out of it. Ajit Pawar is a gutter insect in Pune who breaths on the dirty water of gutter. The people of Maharashtra don't attach any importance to such gutter insects," Uddhav wrote in Samana.
Ajit Pawar preferred not to react to this diatribe from Uddhav but his nephew Rohit Pawar, who is being groomed as the next generation politician by the family, shot back at Udhhav saying he lacks backbone.
"Balasaheb asked people to look after Uddhav after him because he knew his son is undeveloped. He was clever, had command over the language. But he never abused anyone through his writing. Uddhav never got elected and never stepped out of his bungalow to understand Maharashtra. But now he is in power and fooling the people of the state," Rohit Pawar wrote in a Facebook Post.
This verbal dual is likely to heat up in an election year when both the families will be fighting a tough battle for their political relevance.