Tough road ahead for Uddhav camp, apprehends attempt to decimate party

The decision of the BJP to handover the post of the chief minister to rebel leader Eknath Shinde has sent the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena in a tizzy, which feels that there is a larger game plan to decimate the party completely.

According to party insiders, the Thackeray camp is apprehending that the Shinde faction will attempt to take over not only the remaining legislators but also the Shiv Sena Bhavan – the party’s headquarters in Mumbai’s Dadar.

Anticipating a battle between Thackeray and Shinde over who controls the “real Sena”, Aaditya Thackeray-led Yuva Sena has come in the forefront since the rebellion and is rallying support in Mumbai. The youth wing of the Sean has started taking on the Shinde faction by holding rallies of party workers in every ward of the state, along with campaigns being launched on social media.

Aaditya has held over 10 such rallies and meetings in Mumbai to interact with workers that the party is trying to hold on to.

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The Yuva Sena, which has made space for itself in colleges and universities across the state, now plans to expand its base in Mumbai University.

Veteran Shiv Sena leader Gajanan Kirtikar expressed confusion over what the BJP wanted. “We don’t know what Chanakya Amit Shah wants. They have taken 50 MLAs and they want to break our party completely. We will not let this happen,” he said

Former Sena minister Anil Parab said, “I have seen good and bad days in life. I have fought on the streets and also made strategies for the party. The MLAs have gone, but the Sainiks on the roadside are still with us. Narayan Rane also broke away and took away some people… Eknath Shinde is not as impressive as Rane. Less number of Sainiks will go with him.”

“Uddhavji is meeting people daily now. We will build our party again,” he added.

MLC Vilas Potnis, a Sena leader, claimed what BJP had done was its internal matter. “Our party is cadre based and our Sainiks are backing us. This is a setback… there are up and downs. We will come back. ”

Former leader of the House in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Vishakha Raut, said, “Our Sainiks are smart. They know that BJP broke the party…. They may now plan to take over the Sena Bhavan and all corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.”

A senior Sena leader from the Thackeray camp said that the Shinde group wanted to take over Sena Bhavan. “But all our shakhas and the Sena Bhavan are in name of a trust that has leaders like Subhash Desai… these can’t be taken away from us.”

The leader added that Shinde was very powerful and controls various corporations like Thane, Kalyan-Dombivali, Ambernath, Kulgaon-Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi-Nizampur, Navi Mumbai and Mira Bhayander as well as civic bodies in Palghar, Dahanu and Talasari.

“As he is now the CM, he will get the corporations on a platter for the BJP. For BMC, the rest of the team will toil. This appears to be BJP’s plan.”

According to political analysts, the writing was clear on the wall of an imminent downfall of the Sena after the BJP won the 2014 Lok Sabha and established itself as the sole torchbearer of Hindutva.

“Shiv Sena’s days were numbered when the BJP emerged as a sole torchbearer of Hindutva. It was only a matter of how the Sena would go down – fighting or whimpering,” said political analyst Venkatesh Kesari.

“The chessboard in Maharashtra has changed. Uddhav may not win immediately. But Balasaheb’s image will continue with Uddhav, who will be the heir and Shinde will be seen as a rebel who betrayed,” said Kumar Ketkar, senior journalist and Rajya Sabha member of Congress.

Ketkar believes that it is too early to write the obituary of Shiv Sena. “The Shiv Sena is not at all finished. The Shiv Sena will rise. Whether it will rise in electoral and power terms in the near future is a different question,” he said, adding that the toppling game in Maharashtra has not gone down well with the electors.

“This was not an ideological fight, it was a naked fight for power. Eknath Shinde’s credibility will not grow beyond
Thane, Uddhav’s credibility will rise across Maharashtra and perhaps in the rest of the country,” Ketkar said.

—WITH PTI INPUTS