Face of Shiv Sena Rebellion, New CM of Maharashtra: Who Is Eknath Shinde?

Shinde, an MLA from Thane’s Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency, has been a part of the Shiv Sena since the 1980s.

3 min read
Edited By :Tejas Harad

Video Producers: Mayank Chawla

Video Editors: Prajjwal Kumar, Mohd. Irshad

Eknath Shinde – the man who engineered one of the biggest political rebellions the country has seen in recent times – became the new chief minister of Maharashtra on Thursday, 30 June.

Shinde had begun his rebellion on 21 June, when he took dozens of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs with him to a 5-star hotel in Gujarat's Surat. In a little more than a week, he caused the downfall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which was formed painstakingly after the 2019 Assembly election.

Shinde claimed to have the support of around 50 MLAs, including at least 38 from the Shiv Sena – enough to decimate the party's strength in the Assembly.

The leader's elevation to the post was announced by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday.

Who Is Eknath Shinde?

Face of the Shiv Sena from Thane for close to three decades, one of the five ministers to take oath with Uddhav Thackeray in 2019, and the Public Works Department minister in the Maharashtra Cabinet, Shinde has had an illustrious career in the Shiv Sena for decades.

Shinde, an MLA from Thane’s Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency, has been a part of the Sena since the 1980s, when he joined as a Shakha Pramukh in Kisan Nagar.

Father of Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde, the 58-year-old MLA was first elected as a corporator of the Thane Municipal Corporation in 1997. He was later elected to the post of the leader of the House in the municipal corporation.

The MLA, who is also the Guardian Minister of the Thane district, was elected to the Assembly four times – in 2004, 2009, 2014, and 2019.

He was a key player amid the party's power tussle with the BJP following the 2019 Assembly election in the state. The minister also enjoys much political clout in Thane, and is thus a central figure of the Sena in the district.

In 2014, he was chosen as the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Maharashtra Assembly, a position he held only for a month, before he became the PWD minister in the Devendra Fadnavis government.

After the 2019 election, Shinde was given the post of Minister of Public Health and Family Welfare. He was also unanimously elected as the leader of the Sena in the Maharashtra Assembly.

What Caused the Rebellion? 

Shinde wanted the Shiv Sena to join hands with the BJP, which shares its Hindutva sentiments, instead of ideologically distant parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.

He was also upset over being sidelined in the MVA government.

Shinde's relegation was related to his alleged rivalry with Aaditya Thackeray, son of former CM Uddhav. Despite Shinde being an important minister in the MVA, Thackeray junior enjoyed more power in the coalition.

Further, it is believed that Shinde was almost made the chief minister in 2019, before the decision tilted in Uddhav Thackeray's favour.

The results of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election also created unrest within the party as all five candidates of the BJP won a thumping majority in the polls while the Sena won only two seats.

After its loss in the polls, the Sena called for a meeting as it suspected cross-voting to have taken place. However, at least 30 MLAs, including Shinde, were incommunicado and did not appear for the meeting.


Timeline of the Rebellion

On 21 June, Shinde along with dozens of MLAs moved to a hotel in Gujarat's Surat in an apparent show of strength against the Sena.

Subsequently, Thackeray offered to resign from the post of chief minister. He also left the official residence of the CM, Varsha, and moved to his family home, Matoshree.

On 24 June, more than 35 rebel MLAs declared Shinde as the leader of the party in the legislature. The Sena then filed a plea, calling for the disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs.

Arguing that the MVA government had lost the majority in the Maharashtra Assembly, the BJP's Devendra Fadnavis urged Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari to order a floor test, which the latter agreed to.

Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the conduct of the floor test.

The apex court, however, refused to stay the floor test, arguing that doing so would "damage democracy" further.

Within minutes of the court's decision, Thackeray resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra. He also resigned as a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC).

On Thursday, Shinde was sworn-in as the CM of Maharashtra - shortly after Fadnavis announced his elevation to the top post.

Also, despite saying earlier that he would not be a part of Shinde's Cabinet, Fadnavis took oath as the deputy chief minister of the state.

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