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Thursday, July 07, 2022

Torn between Shinde and party, Shiv Sainiks in Pune in ‘wait and watch’ mode

Several Sena leaders had grown their clout by opposing the NCP in local bodies. However, the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had put a number of these leaders in a dilemma.

Written by Parthasarathi Biswas | Pune |
Updated: June 23, 2022 6:51:20 pm
Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray (L) and rebel leader Eknath Shinde. (PTI/ANI)

With their party seemingly headed towards a vertical split, Shiv Sainiks in Pune have adopted a “wait and watch” attitude. While many in the party have expressed their support for minister Eknath Shinde as most felt the NCP leadership was “working overtime to erode Shiv Sena’s hold” in several areas of the district, they have expressed their inability to pick a side between the party and Shinde in the long run.

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena have traditionally been rivals in several parts of Pune, especially in the rural areas of the district. Several leaders had grown their clout by opposing the NCP in local bodies. However, formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government had put a number of these leaders in a dilemma.

Attempts by NCP leaders at the local level to regain the ground lost to the Sena in the past did not make matters easy either. The past two years and a half have brought to light several incidents, which showed the uneasy ground-level relations shared by the NCP and the Shiv Sena. A majority of local bodies in Pune district, which the Sena has been trying to enter since long, are in control of the NCP. The conflicts were more pronounced in the industrial belt of Chakan, which the NCP had wrested from the Sena. A number of gram panchayats that went to polls earlier this year had seen the friction come out in open.

When Shinde decided to revolt, a number of these leaders, at least begrudgingly, supported him. A senior leader from Pune told The Indian Express that one of the main catalysts for Shinde and other MLAs to revolt was their uneasiness with the NCP. “A vast majority of the Shiv Sainiks themselves share this and thus would support Shinde,” the leader said. Even if Shinde joins hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), one of the main conditions, this leader said, would be to keep the NCP away from power.

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However, the question of whether they would choose the party or Shinde in case of a split has left many leaders confused. Given the emotional attachment they have with the party, any such decision would be unthinkable. “We are confused: let’s wait and watch on how things unfurl,” seems to be the refrain.

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