THE Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena on Tuesday approached Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla Tuesday to recognise it as the official Sena, with Rahul Shewale, a two-time MP from Mumbai South Central, as its leader.
A 49-year-old Dalit leader, who has been associated with the Sena for over two decades now, Shewale was the first party MP to write to Uddhav Thackeray urging him to support NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu in the elections.
Lately, Shewale has also been in the news for rape allegations against him. Shewale has called the charge a lie and filed an FIR of cheating, blackmail and defamation.
The Shinde faction claims support of 12 Sena MPs in the Lok Sabha – of the party’s total strength of 19 in the House.
The son of a Naval officer who was born in Mumbai, Shewale was a Sena shakha pramukh in the city in the early 2000s. He was elected as BMC corporator for the first time in 2002, and went on to win twice more in 2007 and 2012. He tried his luck in the Assembly elections from Trombay constituency in 2004, but lost to a Congress candidate.
In 2014, he moved to the Lok Sabha, winning as the joint Sena-BJP candidate from Mumbai South Central. He defeated fellow Dalit leader and two-time MP Eknath Gaikwad of the Congress by 1.38 lakh votes.
Shewale’s wife Kamini is also in the Shiv Sena and is a former BMC corporator.