Thackeray Loyalist, Shiv Sainik for Decades: Will Eknath Shinde Be MVA's Fall?
From claiming to being 'sidelined' to demanding Sena-BJP reunion, here's why Eknath Shinde has started a rebellion.
Video Producer: Mayank Chawla
Video Editor: Prajjwal Kumar
Face of the Shiv Sena from Thane for close to three decades, four-time MLA from Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency, one of the five ministers to take oath with Uddhav Thackeray in 2019, and the current Public Works Department minister in the Maharashtra cabinet – Eknath Shinde has had an illustrious career in the Shiv Sena for decades.
However, with the latest developments that have come to the fore, Shinde might be the reason behind the fall of the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra.
Shinde is currently believed to be engineering one of the biggest rebellions the Shiv Sena has ever seen after Raj Thackeray.
A day after all five candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured a victory in the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) elections, at least 20 MLAs led by Shinde are holed up at Surat's Le Meridian Hotel under heavy police presence.
At least 13 of those MLAs had also skipped a meeting at the chief minister's residence on Monday following the MVA's debacle in the MLC elections, and had been "unreachable" ever since.
While reports of a rift between Shinde and the Sena's top leadership aren't new, will the Thackeray loyalist actually lead to the downfall of the Sena-led government in the state?
Who Is Eknath Shinde?
Shinde, an MLA from Thane’s Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency, has been a part of the Sena from 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.
Why Is He Upset?
Eknath Shinde wants the Shiv Sena to join hands with the BJP, which shares its Hindutva sentiments, sources told The Quint. The Sena is currently allied with the Congress and the Nationalist Congres Party, both opponents of the saffron party.
Shinde is also reportedly upset over being sidelined in the MVA government.
Shinde's relegation is related to his alleged rivalry with Aaditya Thackeray, the Cabinet minister and son of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Despite Shinde being an important minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, Aaditya Thackeray enjoys 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.
Overview of the 2022 MLC Elections
Following the MLC election, Shinde had taken to Twitter to congratulate the two candidates of the Shiv Sena who won from their seats, namely Sachin Ahir and Aamshya Padavi.
The BJP's five candidates – Pravin Darekar, Ram Shinde, Shrikant Bharatiya, Uma Khapre, and Prasad Lad – won a thumping victory in the polls.
Two candidates of the MVA's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also won the election, while the Congress won a lone seat.
The MVA government enjoys a majority of 169 MLAs in the Maharashtra Assembly, 25 more than the majority mark of 144. On the other hand, the BJP has 106 legislators.
After the 2019 elections, the Sena, the Congress and the NCP had cobbled together an alliance, which came to be known as the MVA, after the Uddhav Thackeray-led party called it quits on their alliance with the BJP following the latter's refusal to appoint a Sena leader as CM.
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