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Milind Deora Joins Shiv Sena: Shinde's Gains May Be Bigger Than Congress' Losses

Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

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His family has been associated with the Congress for over five decades, his father was one of the tallest leaders of the Maharashtra Congress, he himself has been a Lok Sabha MP from the Mumbai South constituency, a Union minister, and the chief of Mumbai Congress.

And yet, Milind Deora on Sunday, 14 January, joined the ranks of several Congress leaders who have bid adieu to the grand old party.

The move is being attributed to the seat-sharing tussle between the allies of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), Maharashtra's Opposition alliance comprising the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (Sharad Pawar faction), and Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray faction).
Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

Milind Deora takes blessings at Mumbai's Siddhivinayak temple before joining the Shiv Sena on Sunday, 14 January.

(Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

Deora is a two-time MP who won the Mumbai South seat in 2004 and 2009, but the seat has been a stronghold of Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Arvind Sawant since 2014.

As per sources, Uddhav Thackeray has been firm on his demand that given Sawant's win-ability, the seat should remain with his party for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Congress communications incharge Jairam Ramesh, too, confirmed Deora's concerns regarding the seat.

The issue, however, is far bigger than just the Mumbai South constituency as Deora's move to the Shiv Sena highlights four key aspects:

Milind Deora Joins Shiv Sena: Shinde's Gains May Be Bigger Than Congress' Losses

  1. 1. The Rationale Behind Joining Shinde's Sena and Not BJP

    The Mumbai South seat has had an unquestionable Sena-BJP dominance.

    Given that the undivided Sena won it twice consecutively so far, Shinde is believed to have staked claim on the seat since he has taken over the Shiv Sena following the split.

    The seat consists of six Assembly constituencies – Worli, Shivadi, Malabar Hill, Colaba, Byculla, and Mumbadevi.

    Out of these six, the undivided Shiv Sena won three and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won two in the 2019 Assembly elections.

    At least four of the six Assembly seats had been bagged by either the Sena or the BJP in both 2014 and 2019. BJP leader Mangal Prabhat Lodha, in fact, has won the Malabar Hill seat six consecutive times since 1995.
    Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

    However, the BJP has not yet given up its the claim on the seat, sources said.

    Lodha is believed to be keen on taking the leap to national politics and is the BJP's strongest contender, if the seat was to come to the party as part of the seat-sharing arrangements. Besides Lodha, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar (an MLA from Colaba) is also believed to be interested in contesting from the seat. Narwekar does have strong chances considering his proximity to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

    So, given the stats, Deora's move to the Shiv Sena and not the BJP was also a calculated one.

    Even if Deora does not get to be the Lok Sabha candidate, the Shiva Sena is likely to tap him for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in July 2024.

    So, Shinde gets a strong candidate for a hard bargain while Deora now has the 'chief minister's' backing.

    Expand
  2. 2. Business Ties, Urban-National Face: What Shinde Gets

    With Deora joining the Shiv Sena, the Shinde faction has got an edge on several fronts.

    The Mumbai South Assembly seats are being represented by Sena (UBT) stalwarts like Aaditya Thackeray as the MLA from Worli and Sawant as the Lok Sabha MP. Even the BJP has prominent faces like Lodha and Narwekar.

    Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

    Milind Deora with Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde on Sunday, 14 January, at an event organised for his entry into the Shiv Sena.

    (Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

    Though two of the three MLAs of the undivided Sena who won in 2019 are now with Shinde (Ajay Choudhari from Shivadi and Yamini Jadhav from Byculla), Deora being the urban face and nationally familiar leader gives Shinde the much required electoral boost and bargaining power in the region.

    Secondly, Deora is a name that resonates at several levels, not just in the political circles in Delhi but also in the business community in Mumbai, given his family's legacy ties with most of the city's business tycoons, especially the Ambanis.

    The business ties of the Deoras have long been believed to have benefitted the Congress. Shinde, meanwhile, has not yet got access to the Shiv Sena assets despite the split.

    Observers believe that Deora's ties may now come in handy for CM Shinde to strengthen his own party that is still largely seen to be dependent on the BJP, both politically and financially.
    Expand
  3. 3. 'Big' Jolt for Congress? Maybe, Maybe Not!

    Many see Deora's exit from the Congress as a big jolt for the party. Termed as one of the 'young brigade' members of Rahul Gandhi's team, Deora is another 'legacy leader' of the Congress after Jyotiraditya Scindia to leave the party since 2019.

    Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

    File photo of Milind Deora with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' in December 2023.

    (Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

    Speaking to The Quint, Maharashtra Congress Working President and former Cabinet Minister Naseem Khan said, "The Deoras have had ties with the Congress for years. Naturally, Milind Deora's departure is a shock to the party. It is surprising and unfortunate."

    Meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress leader and All India Congress Committee (AICC) member Sachin Sawant downplayed Deora's exit.

    "At a time when independent institutions are being attacked and democracy is being threatened, leaving a party like the Congress while it is fighting to uphold democracy is indeed unfortunate. He had personal ambitions and he has displayed those," Sawant said.

    "I don't see this as a big jolt to the party. What the party currently needs is leaders and workers sensitive towards the cause of the nation and are ready to struggle for the same. In the past nine years, it was being anticipated that Milind Deora will jump ship at any moment. So, nothing unexpected has happened with his exit," Sawant added.
    Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

    File photo of Milind Deora with Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at the INDIA bloc meet held in Mumbai in September 2023.

    (Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

    Speaking of Deora's ties with business tycoons, he said that it is up to Shinde and his party to calculate how they will benefit. "What we care is how people perceive and understand our message," he added.

    However, party leaders and observers noted that despite all the upheaval in Maharashtra politics since 2019, Deora is the first tall leader of the Congress to have jumped ship.

    A Mumbai Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity, said:

    "He is a big name among the urban, English-speaking voters and the media, yes, but there was not much ground connect the way Aaditya Thackeray or Arvind Sawant have. Moreover, this move had been speculated for a while."

    Expand
  4. 4. Deora's Exit Highlights MVA's Fault Lines?

    Maharashtra Congress' Naseem Khan said that Deora's split from the party could have been avoided if the brewing discontent in Mumbai Congress had been adequately addressed.

    "Shiv Sena is a part of the INDIA bloc. They have a sitting MP there (Mumbai South). They must have used that logic to stake claim to the seat. But there is brewing discontent in party workers and leaders of Mumbai over the way Sena (UBT) has been declaring candidates and seats despite talks being underway and no final decision having been reached on any seat," Khan said.
    Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

    File photo of Milind Deora addressing a Mumbai Congress meeting. 

    (Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

    Experts believe that the three MVA parties have reached a consensus to consider a candidate's win-ability in order to finalise the seat sharing arrangements. Deora has lost the Mumbai South seat twice in the past. He had also resigned as the Mumbai Congress chief in 2019.

    "Arvind Sawant has won the seat twice so far. So, it was natural for the Sena (UBT) to stake claim. Deora met Uddhav Thackeray, too, to demand for the seat for the Lok Sabha elections. But why would Thackeray do that considering whatever his party's been through in the past two years?" political commentator Hemant Desai said.

    Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

    File photo of Milind Deora attending a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) meeting in the presence of former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.

    (Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

    While Shiv Sena (UBT) was in no position to part with a seat that has good chances of victory for them, all MVA allies and experts say that they need to be careful about publicly staking claims on seats and behave more responsibly when it comes to seat-sharing talks.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

The Rationale Behind Joining Shinde's Sena and Not BJP

The Mumbai South seat has had an unquestionable Sena-BJP dominance.

Given that the undivided Sena won it twice consecutively so far, Shinde is believed to have staked claim on the seat since he has taken over the Shiv Sena following the split.

The seat consists of six Assembly constituencies – Worli, Shivadi, Malabar Hill, Colaba, Byculla, and Mumbadevi.

Out of these six, the undivided Shiv Sena won three and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won two in the 2019 Assembly elections.

At least four of the six Assembly seats had been bagged by either the Sena or the BJP in both 2014 and 2019. BJP leader Mangal Prabhat Lodha, in fact, has won the Malabar Hill seat six consecutive times since 1995.
Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

However, the BJP has not yet given up its the claim on the seat, sources said.

Lodha is believed to be keen on taking the leap to national politics and is the BJP's strongest contender, if the seat was to come to the party as part of the seat-sharing arrangements. Besides Lodha, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar (an MLA from Colaba) is also believed to be interested in contesting from the seat. Narwekar does have strong chances considering his proximity to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

So, given the stats, Deora's move to the Shiv Sena and not the BJP was also a calculated one.

Even if Deora does not get to be the Lok Sabha candidate, the Shiva Sena is likely to tap him for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections in July 2024.

So, Shinde gets a strong candidate for a hard bargain while Deora now has the 'chief minister's' backing.

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Business Ties, Urban-National Face: What Shinde Gets

With Deora joining the Shiv Sena, the Shinde faction has got an edge on several fronts.

The Mumbai South Assembly seats are being represented by Sena (UBT) stalwarts like Aaditya Thackeray as the MLA from Worli and Sawant as the Lok Sabha MP. Even the BJP has prominent faces like Lodha and Narwekar.

Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

Milind Deora with Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde on Sunday, 14 January, at an event organised for his entry into the Shiv Sena.

(Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

Though two of the three MLAs of the undivided Sena who won in 2019 are now with Shinde (Ajay Choudhari from Shivadi and Yamini Jadhav from Byculla), Deora being the urban face and nationally familiar leader gives Shinde the much required electoral boost and bargaining power in the region.

Secondly, Deora is a name that resonates at several levels, not just in the political circles in Delhi but also in the business community in Mumbai, given his family's legacy ties with most of the city's business tycoons, especially the Ambanis.

The business ties of the Deoras have long been believed to have benefitted the Congress. Shinde, meanwhile, has not yet got access to the Shiv Sena assets despite the split.

Observers believe that Deora's ties may now come in handy for CM Shinde to strengthen his own party that is still largely seen to be dependent on the BJP, both politically and financially.
0

'Big' Jolt for Congress? Maybe, Maybe Not!

Many see Deora's exit from the Congress as a big jolt for the party. Termed as one of the 'young brigade' members of Rahul Gandhi's team, Deora is another 'legacy leader' of the Congress after Jyotiraditya Scindia to leave the party since 2019.

Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

File photo of Milind Deora with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' in December 2023.

(Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

Speaking to The Quint, Maharashtra Congress Working President and former Cabinet Minister Naseem Khan said, "The Deoras have had ties with the Congress for years. Naturally, Milind Deora's departure is a shock to the party. It is surprising and unfortunate."

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Congress leader and All India Congress Committee (AICC) member Sachin Sawant downplayed Deora's exit.

"At a time when independent institutions are being attacked and democracy is being threatened, leaving a party like the Congress while it is fighting to uphold democracy is indeed unfortunate. He had personal ambitions and he has displayed those," Sawant said.

"I don't see this as a big jolt to the party. What the party currently needs is leaders and workers sensitive towards the cause of the nation and are ready to struggle for the same. In the past nine years, it was being anticipated that Milind Deora will jump ship at any moment. So, nothing unexpected has happened with his exit," Sawant added.
Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

File photo of Milind Deora with Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, and Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at the INDIA bloc meet held in Mumbai in September 2023.

(Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

Speaking of Deora's ties with business tycoons, he said that it is up to Shinde and his party to calculate how they will benefit. "What we care is how people perceive and understand our message," he added.

However, party leaders and observers noted that despite all the upheaval in Maharashtra politics since 2019, Deora is the first tall leader of the Congress to have jumped ship.

A Mumbai Congress leader, on the condition of anonymity, said:

"He is a big name among the urban, English-speaking voters and the media, yes, but there was not much ground connect the way Aaditya Thackeray or Arvind Sawant have. Moreover, this move had been speculated for a while."

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Deora's Exit Highlights MVA's Fault Lines?

Maharashtra Congress' Naseem Khan said that Deora's split from the party could have been avoided if the brewing discontent in Mumbai Congress had been adequately addressed.

"Shiv Sena is a part of the INDIA bloc. They have a sitting MP there (Mumbai South). They must have used that logic to stake claim to the seat. But there is brewing discontent in party workers and leaders of Mumbai over the way Sena (UBT) has been declaring candidates and seats despite talks being underway and no final decision having been reached on any seat," Khan said.
Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

File photo of Milind Deora addressing a Mumbai Congress meeting. 

(Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

Experts believe that the three MVA parties have reached a consensus to consider a candidate's win-ability in order to finalise the seat sharing arrangements. Deora has lost the Mumbai South seat twice in the past. He had also resigned as the Mumbai Congress chief in 2019.

"Arvind Sawant has won the seat twice so far. So, it was natural for the Sena (UBT) to stake claim. Deora met Uddhav Thackeray, too, to demand for the seat for the Lok Sabha elections. But why would Thackeray do that considering whatever his party's been through in the past two years?" political commentator Hemant Desai said.

Why did Milind Deora join Shiv Sena and not the BJP? Is it really a big jolt for Congress? A look at 4 key aspects.

File photo of Milind Deora attending a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) meeting in the presence of former Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.

(Photo Courtesy: X/@milinddeora)

While Shiv Sena (UBT) was in no position to part with a seat that has good chances of victory for them, all MVA allies and experts say that they need to be careful about publicly staking claims on seats and behave more responsibly when it comes to seat-sharing talks.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Shiv Sena   Milind Deora   Uddhav Thackeray 

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