The Shiv Sena has brought about a change in its top leadership, with Anil Parab, a close confidant of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, being made the party’s new group leader in the Legislative Council.
Parab will replace senior Sena leader Diwakar Raote, who had a nine-year stint in the post. Raote was made a Cabinet Minister in the Devendra Fadnavis administration when the Sena decided to join the BJP government. Parab’s name as the new group leader was announced by the Chairman of the Legislative Council, Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar.
Uddhav Thackeray is believed to have faith in 50-year-old Parab’s organisational and election management skills and the elevation is seen as a recognition of the efforts put in by Parab in the Sena’s BMC election campaign.
The Sena cadre had been seeking the infusion of young blood into the party’s organisational set-up. Parab has grown up the ranks and was a regional head for the Sena in Mumbai. He was subsequently made an MLC by the party in 2012.
The elevation of Parab is also perceived as an attempt to bring about more aggression in the way the Sena functions in the House, according to party insiders. The Sena leadership was of the view that the party’s old guard was soft in their approach to the BJP. With Raote being made a minister, the Sena was not able to take a strident stand against the BJP in the legislative Council.
The Sena leadership has decided to take a confrontational stand towards the BJP, as it wants to break away from the alliance partner’s growing shadow. While the Sena’s growth has plateaued, the BJP is expanding its footprint in the state. Many Sena leaders fear that in the long run, the BJP could pose a threat of subsuming regional parties like the Sena.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray received a call from BJP chief Amit Shah to invite him for the NDA meeting slated for April 10.