Maharashtra Crisis | Chhagan Bhujbal to Raj Thackeray: Story of Shiv Sena Rebels

As the future of Maharashtra's MVA government looks uncertain, here's a short history of rebellion within Shiv Sena.

3 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose & Mamta Yadav

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

With Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde along with at least 20 party MLAs camping in a resort in Gujarat's Surat, the future of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra looks uncertain.

As per sources, Shinde, a close aide of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, planned the entire exercise with former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis and Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil.

As more than 30 Shiv Sena MLAs remain incommunicado, here's a throwback to times when internal rebellion hit the right-wing party founded by Bal Thackeray in 1966.

Chhagan Bhujbal – The OG Shiv Sena Rebel

Now serving as the cabinet minister of Food and Civil Supply, Consumer Affairs in the Maharashtra government, Chhagan Bhujbal was one of the first rebels Shiv Sena had to deal with.

The year was 1991 and Bhujbal, a party MLA from Mazagon, claimed support of 17 out of 52 party legislators to form Shiv Sena (B).

An OBC strongman, Bhujbal was Bal Thackeray's blue-eyed boy. The two, however, fell out after Thackeray appointed Manohar Joshi as the Opposition leader in the Maharashtra Assembly.

In December 1991, Bhujbal, along with some other Shiv Sena MLAs, joined the Congress under the wing of Sharad Pawar, now chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which is a part of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra.

During his time in the NCP, Bhujbal help important positions like that of the deputy chief minister and the home minister of the state.


When Cousin Thackeray Left the Sena

The biggest blow to the Shiv Sena, however, came when Raj Thackeray, Bal Thackeray's nephew, quit the party in 2005. Raj, who then formed his own party – the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) – was largely hailed as a game-changer in the state politics.

When he quit the party in 2005, Raj Thackeray blamed it on lack of democracy within the Shiv Sena.

He gained instant political success as the newly formed MNS won 13 seats in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 2009. Since then, the party has been on a downward spiral as it managed to win only one seat in 2019 Assembly elections.

Over the years, Raj's lack of clear agenda, image of being an inaccessible leader, and his personal comments against brother Uddhav Thackeray have done little to help him live upto his image of a flamboyant alternative to Shiv Sena in Maharashtra politics.


The Narayan Rane Story

One of the more shocking exits from the Sena has been that of Narayan Rane – a shakha-pramukh who rose through the ranks to become Maharashtra chief minister in the first Shiv Sena-BJP government for eight months in the year 1999.

Rane was expelled from the party in 2005 after he challenged Uddhav's leadership when the latter was named the party's executive president in 2003. He was accused of 'anti-party activities' after he alleged that tickets and posts in Shiv Sena were sold to candidates.

Soon, he joined the Congress with a bunch of other MLAs. In 2017, Rane, who claimed that he was promised the CM’s post, quit the Congress stating that there is no scope in the party and formed his own outfit, the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksh – a party which he merged with the BJP in 2019 when he got elected to Rajya Sabha.

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