From worker to legislative leader: Rise of Eknath ShindeUpdated: Nov 01, 2019, 01:14 IST
While there was speculation that Aaditya Thackeray, who was elected as a legislator for the first time, would lead the Shiv Sena in the state legislature, the party leadership handed over the responsibility to Eknath Shinde, Sena’s Thane district chief and a minister in the outgoing government.
The 55-year-old leader entered the Sena as a worker in the early 1980s, and was elected a shakha pramukh in 1984 in Thane’s Kisan Nagar. Shinde was elected a corporator in the Thane civic body in 1997, and was elected as an MLA from Thane in 2004. He climbed up the ladder in his three-decade-long career to become one of the few ‘mass leaders’ in the Uddhav Thackeray-led party. Shinde emulated his political guru, Sena leader from Thane, the late Anand Dighe, according to his colleagues.
Belonging to a family of farmers in Satara, Shinde now holds sway in Mumbai’s neighbouring Thane district. Shinde, a four-term MLA, has played a key role in the party in the past five years, as a trusted lieutenant of Thackeray. He has expanded the party’s base in Palghar district, which was traditionally dominated by other political parties. He also built the party’s base in neighbouring Kalyan-Dombivli, party functionaries said.
Sena deputy leader Neelam Gorhe said: “He has come up from the cadre level from Thane district. His growth has been slow but steady, as he had to overcome hurdles to get where he is today. I remember when he was a backbencher in the Assembly. A group of legislators from Thane would relentlessly take up issues of their constituencies when we were in the Opposition. His contribution was to strengthen the party in his own district and neighbouring areas.”
Shinde, who was the leader of opposition till the Sena joined the BJP in the Maharashtra, was always in favour of the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. Handling the PWD (MSRDC) and later public health department, Shinde shares cordial relations with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. “He is a go-getter for the party chief,” a functionary said.