Maharashtra political crisis: Rebellion shakes ground beneath Sainiks’ feet

Times of India | 3 days ago | 22-06-2022 | 06:27 am

Maharashtra political crisis: Rebellion shakes ground beneath Sainiks’ feet

MUMBAI: A bolt from the blue struck loyalist Shiv Sena workers as Tuesday’s rebellion led by Eknath Shinde caused the party to stare at loss of power in the state. The party has weathered similar storms in decades gone by when Chhagan Bhujbal, Ganesh Naik, Sanjay Nirupam, Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray jumped ship, but this crisis appears to rock the very moorings of its 56-year existence. Activists were glued to their mobile or TV sets through the day. The rank and file gathered outside the Dadar headquarters of Sena Bhavan and at CM Uddhav Thackeray’s official bungalow, Varsha, to condemn the seismic shock of the 35-odd MLAs’ “betrayal”. Anger and tears welled over as men and women raised saffron flags, fists and slogans, swearing allegiance to Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena and promising to teach a lesson to the “traitors” who had “let down” the institution. The grain of the party comprising members of local Sena shakhas, Ganpati mandals, govinda pathaks, all admitted being “nervous” and hoped that the Sena would tide over this phase. Anger was brewing among party workers in Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayander. Shakha pramukhs decided to keep silent till further orders from the CM. “For over two weeks we had been hearing about a top Sena leader leaving the party with 20-25 MLAs. It was all a planned move,” claimed a functionary from Nalasopara. Senior politician Shishir Shinde from Mulund said, “Party activists and leaders of Shiv Sena will remain united and we will overcome any crisis situation,” he said. Workers at shakhas in Mulund showed complete support for CM Thackeray. Some said that the government was “not unstable” and will continue to rule Maharashtra for its remaining tenure of 2.5 years. The mood was sombre in shakhas in Thane, the bastion of Eknath Shinde, as people anxiously debated the fate of the party in the event Shinde made a drastic move. While the nerve centre at Joshiwada near Tembhi Naka remained quiet, an office-bearer at a Ghodbunder Road unit said, “We never dreamt of having to face such a situation. This is such a shock.” Some party workers outside the Wagle Estate shakha, which is the assembly constituency and also the residence of the minister, came for updates but received none as local leaders remained out of reach. Police security was heightened outside the houses of three rebel MLAs, Vishwanath Bhoir (Kalyan-West), Balaji Kinikar (Ambernath) and Shantaram More (Bhiwandi rural), who are incommunicado and reportedly cloistered with Eknath Shinde in Surat. Bhoir’s family avoided speaking to the media. His supporters half-heartedly said they would follow his decision but common Sainiks were unhappy with his move. Kinikar’s supporters were also confused about the development. “I will go with his decision but I doubt if other Shiv Sainiks from Ambernath will support him,” one said.

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