A day after his appointment to the Maharashtra State Minority Commission as the chairman, Haji Arafat Shaikh, Shiv Sena deputy leader and chief of the party’s transport wing, joined the BJP on Saturday night. Shaikh’s exit from the party is being seen as a setback for the Sena.
Sources said Shaikh held talks with Ashish Shelar, president of the BJP’s Mumbai unit, a day before the appointment was announced and met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Friday morning. Appointments to 21 state-run corporations, an authority and commission were announced on Friday evening. On Saturday, Shaikh joined the BJP in the presence of Fadnavis and Shelar, said a source close to Shaikh.
“Around a year back, I had given my resignation to the party and was working as an activist. This was after Transport Minister Diwakar Roate targeted me for being a Muslim. Besides, party president Uddhav Thackeray had dissolved many small transport unions but Raote continued to attend their programmes. Raote refused to meet my supporters,” Shaikh said, adding that the issues were raised before the party secretary, Anil Desai, and other Sena leaders.
Shaikh started working with the Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Sena, the student wing of the Shiv Sena, and later joined the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. In August 2014, Shaikh rejoined the Sena and was made the deputy leader. “Uddhav ji gave me lot of love but Fadnavis gave me justice,” he added.
He claimed that he was humiliated by Sena leaders who said he was MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s man. “Since the post of the chairman of the minority commission was with the BJP, I was hoping to get the post of the vice-chairman. But my name wasn’t considered by the party. Then the BJP offered me the chairman’s post and I joined the BJP on Saturday night after my appointment,” Shaikh added.