Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Friday warned 27 of the 63 party MLAs for not participating in the ‘sampark yatra’ that began on May 6. Sena leaders said Thackeray was upset as several elected members and leaders deputed proxy (ex-corporators/local leaders) candidates for the rural assignment that included interaction with farmers in villages.
A senior Shiv Sena functionary told The Indian Express: “Yes, it is a fact that 27 MLAs stayed away from the campaign led by Thackeray. In some cases, we have reports that they deputed proxy candidates. Thackeray has taken the issue seriously and warned them.”
The Sampark Yatra that was organised in Marathwada till May 7 was aimed at facilitating interaction between party workers and people in the rural areas.
A Sena leader said: “Gautam Chabukswar, the MLA from Pimpri, had deputed Yashodhar Phnase (ex-corporator) to represent him in the villages. Now, he introduced himself as MLA Gautam Chabukswar. The local villagers and sainiks brought the issue to our notice. Such cases have come to us from several districts, which has been seriously noted by Thackeray.”
According to a source, at an internal meeting held on Friday, Thackeray said: “Every elected member and party worker will have to visit each and every farmer’s doorstep to interact and understand their problems.”
A senior Sena leader who was present at the meeting said: “Thackeray told them they should understand that the next electoral battle will be with the BJP. It is not going to be with the Congress-NCP. Therefore, they should work extra to consolidate the organisation.” The Sena is the coalition partner of the BJP in Maharashtra and the NDA at the Centre.
Several MLAs who did not participate in the ‘Sampark Yatra’ gave different explanations, like death in their family, ill-ness or work outside Maharashtra, for not taking part in it. A senior Sena MP requesting anonymity said: “When 27 MLAs remain absent from Sampark Yatra that is headed by Thackeray, it is a cause of worry.” Thackeray who has concluded his Marathwada tour has decided to start the second phase of the yatra from May 15.
A Sena minister said: “For the party’s interest, we have been told to take to the streets and raise public issues by highlighting the government’s failures. But we will continue to support the BJP government in the state and the Centre. There is no question of withdrawing support at this moment.”