Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has suffered its first setback after its good show in the Lok Sabha elections. Sweta Parulkar, 41, one of Raj’s closest aides and the party’s candidate from the Mumbai South-Central constituency, has defected to the Shiv Sena.
Parulkar, who got over 1.08 lakh votes in the Parliamentary polls and contributed to the defeat of Sena candidate Suresh Gambhir, had raised a banner of revolt against Raj on June 25 after he dissolved the party’s women’s wing that she headed.
He also dissolved the trade union wing at the same time. Though the party leadership said both wings were dissolved for a reshuffle, sources in the MNS said the move was the result of infighting.
Parulkar met Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray at his Matoshree residence in Bandra on Thursday. He welcomed her into the party fold.
“I have joined the Sena. I had been thinking about it for some time now. There were problems in the MNS and the working atmosphere was not conducive,” she told Hindustan Times.
She had complained earlier that the manner of dissolution of the women’s wing was “arbitrary” and said the least the MNS leadership could have done was inform her about the decision, since she had been working hard for the outfit ever since it was launched in 2006.
An aide of Raj since 1989, when he took charge of the Sena’s students’ wing, she had been the only woman leader on the dais at the MNS’s launch function.
She had also visited Lilavati Hospital last week to inquire about Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s health.
The Sena is happy to have her back. “We welcome all such people who are returning home. It is a very good sign,” said Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
MNS general secretary Shirish Parkar said Parulkar had quit the party because she knew she would not get a ticket for the Assembly polls.