After vertical split, Uddhav Thackeray to rejig Sena’s Mumbai unit

Published on Aug 15, 2022 10:07 PM IST

In Sena’s organisational apparatus, Mumbai has 12 vibhags (two for each Lok Sabha segment) and 11 vibhag pramukhs who play a crucial role in the party organisation.

Uddhav Thackeray (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
Uddhav Thackeray (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena plans to undertake an organisational rejig to overcome the damage inflicted by the vertical split in the party and promote fresh blood. The revolt led by Eknath Shinde led to Sena losing power in Maharashtra and also challenged its hold over the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The reshuffle will begin with division chiefs (vibhag pramukhs), who are in charge of a constituency, and then cover lower-level functionaries like deputy division chiefs (upa-vibhag pramukhs), branch heads (shakha pramukhs) and deputy branch chiefs (upa-shakha pramukhs).

Besides, the rejig will also cover office bearers who have occupied their positions for years to ensure that newer faces are appointed in a bid to infuse a fresh vigour and overcome the damage caused by the recent rebellion.

In Sena’s organisational apparatus, Mumbai has 12 vibhags (two for each Lok Sabha segment) and 11 vibhag pramukhs who play a crucial role in the party organisation.

Anil Parab, the former transport minister in the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition led by party president Uddhav Thackeray, holds the charge of two vibhags covering the Mumbai North Central seat. Sena also has 227 shakhas or local offices, one each for a municipal ward in Mumbai.

“The party may undertake an organisation reshuffle. Some vibhag pramukhs may have to make way for newer faces, followed by other functionaries like shakha pramukhs,” a senior Shiv Sena leader told HT. He added that some office-bearers had been occupying their positions for years, which led to stagnation in the organisation and a lack of upward mobility for a newer crop of leaders.

For instance, Sada Sarvankar, the Shiv Sena MLA from Mahim, who has joined hands with Shinde, has been the vibhag pramukh since 2012. It was only after his rebellion that Sarvankar was replaced with Mahesh Sawant, one of his traditional adversaries in the party.

“One of the problems with Uddhav Thackeray’s style of functioning is his status quoist position. Many office bearers have been occupying their positions for years as he did not want to upset the status quo by shuffling cards. This has led to stagnation in the party,” admitted a party activist.

Hence it was necessary to rope in and promote fresh faces and organic leaders in the organisation, instead of the “dynasts in the Yuva Sena” (the party youth wing) to overcome the damage and expand the party’s base, he explained.

The rebellion by party leader Shinde, which was launched on 20 June, has seen him walk out with a total of 40 legislators (including himself). Of the 14 MLAs in Mumbai, Shinde has weaned away five—Dilip Lande, Sarvankar, Yamini Jadhav, Prakash Surve and Mangesh Kudalkar. The other eight—one seat is vacant due to the demise of Andheri East MLA Ramesh Latke—are with Thackeray, including his son and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray.

Of its three Lok Sabha MPs in Mumbai, one (Rahul Shewale from Mumbai South Central) has joined the Shinde camp. The Shiv Sena had the support of a total of 100 corporators, including 86 of its own, independents and defectors from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in the BMC.

So far, four corporators—Sarvankar’s son Samadhan, Yamini Jadhav’s husband Yashwant, Sheetal Mhatre and Lande have openly thrown their lot with Shinde. Shinde loyalists claim that more may follow suit if the Election Commission of India (ECI) hands over the ‘bow-and-arrow’ symbol of the party to them and thus by extension, certifies it as the “real” Shiv Sena.

“Some corporators may switch sides when the BMC elections are announced and if they sense that they may not get the party’s nomination. This is when the real split may happen,” admitted the Shiv Sena leader quoted earlier. He added that the BMC polls may happen either later this year or early 2023.

“For us, it is sooner the better as it will help us encash the sympathy in the voters over Thackeray being ousted as the chief minister in the coup led by Shinde and fuelled by the BJP. This sympathy may gradually wane later,” he said.

The BMC, which is India’s richest civic body, has been controlled by the Shiv Sena from 1985-1992 and from 1997 to date. However, the BJP is moving in for the kill banking on the vertical split in the Shiv Sena and propping up Shinde as its proxy. Any loss of power in Mumbai will hit Sena hard as many of its full-time workers survive on the spoils that trickle down through the power networks in the civic body. This ‘reward economy’ helps keep its party organisation in fine fettle.

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