Speculation rife that 12 Sena MPs in Lok Sabha on the verge to join Shinde’s rebel camp, even as senior leader Ramdas Kadam parts ways with Uddhav Thackeray
Mumbai: Delivering yet another jolt to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, the rebel Sena camp led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced a new national executive committee. This comes amidst rumours of an imminent exodus of 12 of the 19 Lok Sabha MPs from the Uddhav Thackeray’s camp to the Eknath Shinde’s group.
According to sources, the split could even occur during Eknath Shinde’s visit to New Delhi on Tuesday when he is to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the impending cabinet expansion of the new Sena (Shinde camp)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra.
Following Eknath Shinde’s intra-party revolt last month, which saw him along with 39 other Sena MLAs breakaway from the Thackeray faction and topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, there have been persistent reports of several of the 19 Lok Sabha Sena MPs being in touch with the Eknath Shinde camp in order to form a breakaway group in the Lower House of the Parliament.
However, Uddhav loyalist and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut dismissed the speculation of a split in the party’s Lok Sabha group, remarking that the numbers of MPs reportedly joining the Shinde camp were merely put out to “mislead people.”
Despite Sanjay Raut’s optimism, ominous signs for Uddhav Thackeray’s dwindling band of supporters manifested itself earlier in the day in the form of former Maharashtra minister Ramdas Kadam’s resignation.
A disgruntled Ramdas Kadam, who resigned as a Shiv Sena leader, complained in a letter to Uddhav Thackeray that he had been consistently “insulted” when the former was the chief minister of the State.
An old Sena loyalist, Ramdas Kadam, is considered as a Sena stalwart in the Konkan region, expressed anguish in his letter about Uddhav Thackeray eschewing Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology by joining hands with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress.
The former Sena minister remarked “Since Balasaheb Thackeray’s death, being a leader in the Shiv Sena has no value left.” Kadam, was dropped from the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi cabinet of Uddhav Thackeray.
Fissures within the Shiv Sena’s top leadership had emerged in December last year after Ramdas Kadam had accused his party colleague Anil Parab – a close confidante of Uddhav Thackeray – of trying to finish off the party by colluding with the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.
Ramdas Kadam’s son, Dapoli MLA Yogesh Kadam has already joined hands with Eknath Shinde’s rebel camp. Following Ramdas Kadam’s letter, Uddhav Thackeray promptly sacked him, along with another senior leader Anandrao Adsul for alleged “anti-party activities.”
No sooner had Uddhav Thackeray sacked Ramdas Kadam, both the leaders were ‘re-inducted’ into Chief Minister’s Shinde’s new national executive committee as leaders at a meeting of rebel MLAs held at Mumbai’s Trident Hotel on Monday evening.
While Chief Minister Eknath Shinde dismissed the ‘old’ Sena national executive committee to be elected as the ‘chief leader’ of the new executive constituted by the rebel camp, rebel MLA Deepak Kesarkar has been appointed as the spokesperson of this new national executive.
Besides Ramdas Kadam and Anandrao Adsul, who have been appointed as leaders in this new executive, other rebel members like Yashwant Jadhav, Gulabrao Patil, Uday Samant, Sharad Ponkshe, Tanaji Sawant and ex-MP Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil among others have been appointed as the national executive’s ‘deputy leaders.’
Speaking to news persons in New Delhi amidst speculation of a split in the Shiv Sena MPs in the Lok Sabha and the appointment of the new national executive of the party, Sanjay Raut, along with other Uddhav camp loyalists, said that the national executive committee announced by the Shinde-led rebel camp had “no legal basis.”
An angry Sanjay Raut quipped, “The Shiv Sena is where the Thackeray’s are…. This is Balasaheb Thackeray’s party whose head is Uddhav Thackeray. So, how can you (Shinde camp) claim to be the real Shiv Sena and announce a new executive by dismissing the old one? Who has given you (Eknath Shinde) this right?”
A meeting of Sena MPs loyal to Uddhav Thackeray which included Rajya Sabha MPs Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai, along with Lok Sabha MPs Vinayak Raut and Rajan Vichare were held at Sanjay Raut’s residence.
According to sources, the rebel Sena camp is said to be gunning for MP Rahul Shewale to be appointed as leader of the party’s Lok Sabha group replacing Vinayak Raut, who is currently the Sena group leader in the Lower House. The Uddhav camp had recently sacked MP Bhavana Gawali as chief whip in the Lok Sabha, the Shinde faction has said Bhavana Gawali would remain in that position.