Sanjay Raut faces ire of rebels, Sainiks alike
While the rebellion unfolded in Shiv Sena over the past 10 days, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, one of the architects of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance, has been heavily criticised by rebel MLAs as well as a section of Sena leaders for his vocal criticism of the rebel legislators.
Even before former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray made a formal appeal to the rebels, Raut’s daily tirade against them damaged whatever chances there were to bring them back.
“Even before Uddhav ji made a formal appeal to the rebel group, Raut saheb started his attack,” said a Sena leader, requesting anonymity. Some of the Sena rebels even went on record to express their anger over the way they were being targeted by the Sena MP.
“Many statements from Sanjay Raut, where he called us pigs and corpses, were made. Our families were also dragged in it. And if someone expected that the legislators would come back to discuss their issues, it was not possible. No legislator was ready for it,” said Deepak Kesarkar, informal spokesperson of the Shinde group.
Meanwhile, Raut defended his behaviour. “Kesarkar had come [to Shiv Sena] from NCP, before that he was in the Congress. He is a good friend, he was with me before fleeing [to Guwahati]. Don’t blame me or Sharad Pawar; these are just excuses for power... If I am responsible to form the MVA then so be it. I am taking the responsibility for making a Shiv Sena chief minister,” he said.
The Sena MP was instrumental in starting talks with NCP leaders Sharad Pawar, and Praful Patel after the BJP allegedly went back on its power-sharing formula to share the chief minister’s post. Since then, he single handedly spearheaded the attack on the BJP and its leadership. Many within the Sena blamed Raut for going against the people’s mandate for power.
Kesarkar, a former minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government, blamed Raut for the bitter ties between the Sena and BJP. “The ties between BJP and Shiv Sena worsened also because of Sanjay Raut... If Raut saheb can cause us so much grief in the seven days, one can imagine how much it must have hurt the BJP. We do not like the manner in which Raut spoke then and do not like it even now,” added.
The Sawantwadi MLA added that contrary to Raut’s allegations that the rebel group backstabbed the party, the party had gone back on the mandate it got in 2019. “Today, Sanjay Raut said that we backstabbed them. But did we betray? We went into the election in an alliance. The people’s mandate was for BJP and Shiv Sena. Who was the one betrayed here?” he asked.
Raut added that the party would grow and achieve newer heights as the leadership rebuilt it. “Eknath Shinde is a staunch Shiv Sainik along with Gulabrao Patil, Sandipan Bhumre and others. But they have taken a new path now, and we will not create any hurdles in that. They can continue their association with the BJP.”
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