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'Soon, Uddhavji will only be left with darbaris'

July 28, 2022 10:39 IST
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'Very soon you will hear the news of two more MLAs from Uddhavji's side joining our camp.'
'And once the Supreme Court verdict comes out, there will be a waterfall.'

IMAGE: Uddhav Thackeray with his son Aditya and Vinayak Raut (to his right), and Milind Narvekar, Subhash Desai, Sanjay Raut and Chandrakant Khaire (to his left) along with Gajanan Kirtikar (extreme left) at the Shiv Sena's 56th foundation day at a hotel in Powai, north east Mumbai, June 19, 2022.
Eknath Shinde can be seen second from left, the day before he launched his rebellion against Uddhav. Photograph: Sahil Salvi

While the disqualification plea filed by Uddhav Thackeray against 16 Shiv Sena MLAs is pending in the Supreme Court, the Eknath Shinde camp is confident that it will emerge victorious and refute the possibility of a mid-term election as prophesied by Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar after the Maha Vikas Aghadi government fell following Uddhav Thackeray's resignation as chief minister.

"We are pretty hopeful that the Supreme Court will, based on the merits of the case, give its verdict in our favour. I am among one of the 16 whose disqualification has been sought by Uddhavji. There is no question of mid-term elections," a two-time MLA from the Shinde camp -- who was elected from North Maharashtra -- tells Prasanna D Zore/

There is always a twist to such legal cases that are argued in the courts, observes another rebel MLA from Western Maharashtra.

"So far as the history of such verdicts is concerned we know that such cases (disqualification pleas) take at least two terms (10 years) before a verdict is delivered. We just have about two-and-a-half years to go. I think this issue will now go to the Constitutional Bench," this MLA adds.

"After two-and-a-half years or whenever the next election (assembly) is held in Maharashtra the Shinde camp will emerge as the real Shiv Sena," asserts this MLA, adding, "The Election Commission and the Supreme Court are also seized of the matter and one believes it will take lot longer for this issue to be settled than many of us want."

The two MLAs mentioned above did not wished to be named, but they and another MLA Santosh Bangar are unanimous that whatever happens in the Supreme Court or whatever decision the Election Commission of India takes about which faction could use the official symbol of Shiv Sena they will be going to their voters as party founder Bal Thackeray's Hindutvawadis.

"Whatever the Supreme Court and Election Commission decide we will be asking for votes in the name of the Shiv Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray. He remains our aaradhya daivat (sacred deity). We are sure all those who look up to Balasaheb as their aaradhya daivat will vote for us," says Bangar, who jumped ship from Uddhav Thackeray's camp just a day before the trust vote in the Maharashtra assembly.

While it will be a month since Eknath Shinde took the oath of office as chief minister, the band of rebels who travelled with him to Surat, Guwahati, Goa and then back to Mumbai carry a mixed bag of emotions when asked about the possibility of the two Shiv Sena factions coming together.

A few still recall the good old days with Uddhav as the party chief and wish for a patch up, but there are also opinions that dash any glimmer of unity.

The sore point, more than the allocation of funds by the NCP -- which controlled the purse strings of the then Maha Vikas Aghadi government by virtue of having Ajit Pawar as the finance minister -- to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs is the fact that Uddhav and his supporters labelled them as traitors.

"You may go to any limit to label us gaddars (traitors) but that is not how it goes; that is not how our voters think. That is not what people who spilled their sweat and blood for Balasaheb's Shiv Sena deserve," says the rebel MLA from North Maharashtra without hiding his feelings of hurt.

"If one or two MLAs were to leave Uddhavji, then they could be called traitors but when 40 of your own men leave you, then it is a revolt," this MLA points out.

"We still believe in loyalty to a party and our leader, but we also have our responsibilities towards our constituencies and aspirations of people. Our first priority is our constituency. We have been beseeching you (Thackeray), pleading at your doorsteps for two years, but your darbaris would not let us meet you," he adds.

The darbaris he alludes to are Uddhav's confidantes like Milind Narvekar, Sanjay Raut, Anil Parab, Anil Desai, and Subhash Desai.

The possibility of the two Shiv Sena factions uniting has all but diminished now believes the MLA from Western Maharashtra.

"Very soon you will hear the news of two more Shiv Sena MLAs from Uddhavji's side joining our (Eknath Shinde) camp. And once the Supreme Court verdict comes out, there will be a waterfall; not just MLAs and MPs but corporators, councilors, shakha pramukhs (Shiv Sena officials, who form the backbone of the party in municipal wards and who hold sway considerable over the party cadre) too will make a beeline for joining Shinde saheb," says this MLA.

"Uddhavji will be left with only a few darbaris," he adds.

"One can still hope the two Sena factions will come together," says the north Maharashtra MLA. "but till the time people like Sanjay Raut have the eyes and ears of Uddhav saheb he will continue to be swayed by Sharad Pawar."

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