Updated: July 9, 2022 7:51:23 am
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena could be next looking at unrest from its parliamentary wing. A day after one Sena MP requested Uddhav to declare support for the NDA’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, a rebel MLA on Wednesday claimed that 12 out of the party’s 18 MPs would soon join the Eknath Shinde-led faction, a claim not denied by party sources.
Talking to reporters in his constituency in Jalgaon district, Gulabrao Patil, a minister in the Uddhav-led MVA government, said: “We (rebel camp) have 40 out of 55 MLAs with us, and 12 out of 18 MPs… I have met four MPs personally. We also have 22 former MLAs with us.”
Shiv Sena Lok Sabha MP Rahul Shewale wrote to Uddhav on Tuesday night asking him to tell party MPs to support Murmu, considering her tribal roots and contribution to the social sector, and giving the example of how Bal Thackeray had supported UPA candidates Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee, overriding political differences.
In what could be a related development, the Uddhav-led Sena Wednesday replaced Bhavana Gawali as its chief whip in the Lok Sabha, with Rajan Vichare. Gawali, the MP from Yavatmal-Washim, was one of the Sena parliamentarians to suggest that the Sena ally with the BJP again, amid the rebellion led by Shinde.
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So far sticking by Uddhav, the 18 MPs, with the exception of Shinde’s son Shrikant Shinde, are nervous knowing that without the support of elected party members in their respective constituencies, winning the next elections would be tough for them. Generally each Lok Sabha constituency has six Assembly segments.
Besides, in the last Lok Sabha polls (2019), when the Sena had won 18 of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra, it had fought in alliance with the BJP. A big factor in that performance was Narendra Modi’s popularity. In several constituencies, Shiv Sena candidates facing anti-incumbency had chosen to put up the Prime Minister’s pictures. At some places, these were bigger than Bal Thackeray and Uddhav’s.
It is to be seen how long the MPs watch from the sidelines as the rebel MLAs, now in power and with the muscle power of the BJP and Centre behind them, continue their attacks on Uddhav and son Aaditya. Such as that by Sena rebel Gulabrao Patil: “At whose behest were they (the Thackerays) running the organisation? We at the grass-roots worked relentlessly. We spilled our blood for the party’s growth. But all those who were hardcore Sainiks and sincere workers were sidelined in the organisation.”
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has also hinted at the “rebellions” still to come in the Uddhav-led Sena. “There are countless unhappy members representing Parliament, zilla parishads, corporations, gram panchayats, who will take drastic decisions soon,” he said.
The Shinde camp is sure the split will run horizontally across all the bodies of the party till it reaches the grass-roots, with the unrest among workers said to be “manifold” compared to that in elected members.
The Sena leaders still in the Uddhav camp also admit a sense of despondency among the Thackerays, with no real effort to address the problem. A senior leader said, “The problem is we are not willing to accept our mistakes. Unless we seriously introspect and identify why we failed to retain our own members, how can we improve? There is no effort towards course correction.”
Anger is also mounting against one of their own among the Sena MPs, Sanjay Raut, who has lost many friends and earned some enemies with his rabble-rousing remarks adding fuel to the fire.
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