‘Want Kunbi support? Field our candidates’: Kunbi community tells Shiv Sena
The belt of Raigad and Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, which has 12 Assembly segments, has been a stronghold of the Sena, with support from the Kunbi community.Updated: Aug 16, 2019 03:18 IST
Ahead of the state Assembly elections, the Shiv Sena is facing a threat from an outfit of Kunbi community in the Konkan region. Kunbi Sena, a political outfit led Vishwanath Patil, said they would support the Shiv Sena only if it fields candidates from the community in the Konkan belt.
The belt of Raigad and Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, which has 12 Assembly segments, has been a stronghold of the Sena, with support from the Kunbi community. Having supported the Sena for decades, the discontent among a section of the community is growing.
Some Kunbi Sena leaders claim the Uddhav Thackeray-led party has never taken up key issues of the community. Dada Baikar, district chief on Kunbi Sena in Ratnagiri, said around 70% of the community has backed the Sena in Konkan to make it the party’s bastion. “They need to give representation to the community so that our issues are resolved. We want at least two Kunbi candidates this election. If not, we will not back the Shiv Sena,” Baikar said.
Kunbi Sena’s Patil, who now backs the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the state, said the community has the “muscle to build or break a party”. “We have been working for the rights of the community for decades. Our demands are for poor farm labourers. They toil on the land, but it is not on their name. Successive governments have assured community leaders, but no action has been taken,” Patil said.
The Sena, however, is unfazed by the posturing. Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Vinayak Raut said, “The community is in our support. They are not discontent with the party. In fact, 80% of our office-bearers in the districts of Konkan are Kunbis. Let the Kunbi Sena play its politics, we are not concerned by it. It is not a part of the National Democratic Alliance. We in the Sena, work together with the Kunbi, Marathas and all other communities.”
Significantly, senior Sena leader who was a minister in successive BJP-led governments at the Centre Anant Geete comes from the Kunbi community. He lost the last Lok Sabha elections to Nationalist Congress Party’s Sunil Tatkare in Raigad constituency.