How Sena’s mastermind Anil Parab became a minister
One of the surprise picks in Monday’s cabinet expansion of the state government was Anil Parab, a shrewd backroom operator who is the Sena’s go-to man for everything – legal battles, day-to-day activities and strategising for the elections.
Recently, the well-known lawyer played a major role in coordinating with the lawyers in the Supreme Court during the battle for the formation of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government comprising three parties — the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress.
Political analysts say this was why chief minister Uddhav Thackeray picked him as a minister, despite him being a member of the legislative Council (MLC), ignoring two other senior members from the Council — Ramdas Kadam and Diwakar Raote. “Thackeray chose him notwithstanding the opposition in the party. This shows the faith he has in him,” said political analyst Hemant Desai.
Parab shot to limelight during the 2017 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, as he led the Sena from the front against its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which contested alone.
The BJP had accused the Sena of corruption in the BMC and promised to bring around a transparent regime in India’s richest civic body. Parab contested their claims on every possible forum.
On Monday, Parab successfully surged ahead of his two high-profile rivals to get ministership — former minister Ravindra Waikar and ex-mayor Sunil Prabhu — who represent the neighbouring constituencies of Jogeshwari and Dindoshi, respectively. “Thackeray was smart in picking Parab as giving ministership to any one of these two would have antagonized the other,” said Desai.
Parab, a resident of Gandhinagar, a stone’s throw away from Matoshree — the residence of Uddhav Thackeray in Bandra East — cut his teeth into the Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the students’ body of the Sena. He was mentored by former Sena minister Madhukar Sarpotdar, who was close to Sena founder the late Bal Thackeray. Subsequently, Parab grew close to Uddhav Thackeray, who was gradually consolidating his hold over the Sena. For the past 19 years, Parab has been the vibhag pramukh of the north-west unit of the party and been elected as an MLC thrice.
Former chief minister Narayan Rane too had blamed Parab, along with Thackeray’s secretary Milind Narvekar, for his exit from the party.
In October 2017, Parab carried out a virtual coup when he ensured the defection of six of the seven corporators belonging to the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) to the Shiv Sena, reducing the MNS’s strength to just one in the BMC. The incident only ensured his clout grew further.