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Thackeray camp suffers a blow ahead of Dussehra rally as hundreds of party cadres from Aaditya Thackeray’s constituency pledge support for CM Shinde

Shivsainiks from the fisherfolk community of Worli Koliwada, reportedly were unhappy with Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray regarding grievance redressal over Mumbai coastal road project


Mumbai: In what is being seen as a blow to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena camp ahead of the October 5 Dussehra rally, hundreds of Shivsainiks and office bearers from the fisherfolk community of Worli Koliwada area joined the rival Sena faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on October 2.

The setback is particularly significant given the fact that the fisherfolk constitute a sizeable segment of the electorate represented by Sena president Uddhav Thackeray’s son, former Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray is the MLA of Worli assembly constituency.

According to sources, more than 500 Sena activists from Worli Koliwada switched allegiance to the Shinde camp as they were reportedly upset about Aaditya Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray had not addressed their problems regarding the Mumbai Coastal Road project during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

The fishermen folk also presented a garland in the form of a ‘bow and arrow’ (Shiv Sena’s electoral symbol) to the Chief Minister, hinting that the Eknath Shinde faction was the ‘legitimate’ Shiv Sena for them and not the one led by the Uddhav Thackeray clan.

Besides the activists from Worli, hundreds of other activists from other parties like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), office bearers and members of other political outfits including several teacher organizations, made a beeline outside Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s official residence ‘Varsha’ in South Mumbai on Sunday to express their support for the Maharashtra, Chief Minister.

Responding to the felicitation, Shinde remarked, “I welcome all those who have expressed support for our government. Many people from Worli Koliwada, too, have declared their support for us. This is because they feel that our government (BJP-Shinde-led Sena faction) can truly give them justice as a ‘common man’s government’ has been established.”

The Chief Minister donned the traditional Koli headgear of fisherman that was presented to him earlier, and heard out the grievances of the fisherfolk regarding the coastal road project which has stalled owing to protests by the Koli community.

The 22 km long coastal road being constructed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is expected to significantly reduce travel time between north and south Mumbai. However, fisherfolk have been vehemently protesting the project as they feel it would ruin their livelihoods.

Assuring the fishermen folk who had come to pledge their support, the Chief Minister remarked, “The Kolis are the bhumiputras (sons of the soil) of this region. Our government will certainly take cognizance of their problems and resolve the ones pertaining to the Coastal Road project… I will certainly come to the jetty and meet you.”

With the majority of Shiv Sena MLAs and MPs having already deserted the Thackeray camp and shifted their allegiances to Eknath Shinde, the Chief Minister’s camp is perceiving the ‘defection’ of party cadres like the Worli Kolis as the final nail in the coffin of the Thackeray faction.

Queues of eager activists outside the CM’s residence is also lengthening as a show of strength for Eknath Shinde ahead of the Dussehra rally, where the prestige of both factions is on the line.

The defections of the party cadre come amidst widespread speculation that Uddhav Thackeray’s closest aide and long-time confidante Milind Narvekar could walk-over to the Shinde camp. On October 1, Minister Gulabrao Patil from the Shinde group claimed that Milind Narvekar was reportedly “on his way” to join their fold.

While the Uddhav camp has denied reports appearing in a section of the media, blaming the Shinde camp for deliberately spreading confusion, Milind Narvekar has maintained backdoor contacts with Eknath Shinde even after the split in the party. Shinde had even visited Milind Narvekar’s house during the recent Ganesh festival.

Meanwhile, Buldhana Lok Sabha MP and Shinde faction Prataprao Jadhav claimed on Sunday that at least three-four MLAs and three of the six remaining MPs of the Thackeray camp were in close contact with the CM but that “certain problems” were preventing them from joining the ruling alliance.


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