Brewing discontent in Shiv Sena sparks MVA crisis

Updated on Jun 22, 2022 04:31 AM IST

When Shiv Sena leader and urban development minister Eknath Shinde launched his rebellion against the MVA leadership, it was the timing that caught everyone unawares.

Shiv Sena supporters shouts slogan in support of chief minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray, outside Shiv Sena Bhavan, Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Tuesday. (PTI)
Shiv Sena supporters shouts slogan in support of chief minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray, outside Shiv Sena Bhavan, Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Tuesday. (PTI)

It was one of the worst-kept secrets in politics, its inevitability spoken about in hushed tones in the corridors of power. But when Shiv Sena leader and urban development minister Eknath Shinde launched his rebellion against the party leadership, it was the timing that caught everyone unawares.

“This was being spoken about for at least a year. There has been talk that Shinde has been sulking and may walk off with a group of legislators. But what happened late on Monday was unexpected,” said a Congress minister, referring to Shinde making his move just after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) inflicted a humiliating defeat on the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the legislative council polls by winning all the five seats it contested, and ensuring that Chandrakant Handore of the Congress lost the polls amid massive cross-voting from the MVA ranks.

Shinde’s rise in the Shiv Sena was a product of one rebellion in the party — that by then leader of Opposition Narayan Rane in 2005 — which increased the leadership’s dependence on him for providing muscle to take on Rane’s men. Ironically, around two decades later, the wheel has turned full circle as Shinde is posing the latest existential challenge to his party.

However, politicians and ministers are surprised at how Shinde was able to launch his rebellion without the leadership or state apparatus getting whiff of it. “Everybody knew he had an axe to grind,” noted a senior IPS officer with his ears to the ground who asked not to be named, “but the Sena tried to brush it under the carpet.”

A party functionary said that Shinde left for Gujarat by road after 5pm on Monday evening. The Mumbai Police security detail escorted him until Talasari in Palghar, but was unaware that Shinde was leaving Maharashtra. They came to know that the minister was going to Gujarat only when he crossed the border but by then the matter had gone out of their hands. The group of rebels includes minister of state for home Shambhuraj Desai, thus it was difficult for anyone to get any idea of what is going to happen, he pointed out.

A section of leaders believes it as a failure of the state home department, which now comes under senior NCP leader Dilip Walse-Patil. “It is a complete failure of the state intelligence unit. They have failed in getting any clue of such a big development. This is the second time when our state intelligence was found lacking. Last time too they had no information when a group of MSRTC workers attacked the residence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar in April,” said an NCP leader, requesting anonymity.

People aware of the matter said that Thackeray’s decision to assume the chief minister’s chair in 2019 after the formation of the MVA in extraordinary circumstances, and the elevation of his son and Yuva Sena chief Aaditya to the Cabinet led to Shinde realising that he had hit the glass ceiling. He had, in any case, developed a good relationship with BJP leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis while serving as a minister in his Cabinet.

The Sena’s decision to drop industries minister Subhash Desai as its nominee in the council polls, and talk that the portfolio may be handed over to Aaditya seemed to have provided the trigger for Shinde’s rebellion. The people cited above said that Shinde may have tested the waters in the Rajya Sabha polls, where 10 independents and legislators from smaller parties cross-voted, leading to the defeat of the Sena’s Sanjay Pawar, and then in the council elections, before mounting his challenge.

However, Shinde has much at stake in this make-or-break moment. As a second Congress minister put it: “Shinde may have launched his rebellion, but does he have the numbers to take it to its logical end. Does he have the heft to take on Uddhav and win?”

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Faisal is with the political team and covers state administration and state politics. He also covers NCP.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, December 04, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals