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Split wide open: Two years down, Sena factions stuck in unending loop of rhetoric

Thackeray’s son Uddhav Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the Shiv Sena led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde now have place in two diametrically opposite alliances.
Last Updated : 20 June 2024, 11:46 IST

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Mumbai: Fifty-eight after the late Balasaheb Thackeray founded the Shiv Sena and two years post the split in the party, the two warring factions continue to be on a permanent mode of heated exchanges. However, a lot of surprises are in store in future in Maharashtra

Balasaheb Thackeray (23 January, 1926 - 17 November 2012) founded the Shiv Sena on June 19, 1966 for the cause of Marathi manoos and later along with it championed the cause of Hindutva. 

Thackeray’s son Uddhav, who heads the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the Shiv Sena faction led by Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde now have place in two diametrically opposite alliances. 

Two years ago, just after the 56th foundation day, on June 20, 2022, Shinde had raised a banner of revolt against Thackeray and toppled the Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress with the help of BJP. 

On June 30, 2022, Shinde became the Chief Minister with BJP’s Maharashtra points-person Devendra Fadnavis as the Deputy Chief Minister. A year later, Ajit Pawar staged a banner of rebellion  against his mentor and uncle Sharad Pawar and joined the BJP-led NDA camp on 2 July, 2023 and became Deputy Chief Minister.

While the control of the 'real' Shiv Sena and the iconic dhanushya baan (bow and arrow) symbol is with Shinde, Thackeray’s party is now known as Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and allotted the mashaal (flaming torch) symbol. 

“In 2023 and 2024, on foundation day parallel events were held on June 19. However, the issues remain the same. Thackeray and Shinde do not appear to move forward and touch upon more of people’s issues. Maharashtra has many issues than a political rhetoric,” said Prakash Akolkar, a veteran political analyst, who has written several books. 

When in 2009, the Congress-led UPA government was elected for the second time headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, from Maharashtra, the Congress and undivided NCP - which was known as Democratic Front - won 17 and 8 seats, respectively, while the BJP and Shiv Sena won 9 and 11 seats, respectively while others/independents got 3. 

In 2014, the country witnessed the Narendra Modi wave and the then Gujarat Chief Minister became the Prime Minister - at that point of time, the saffron alliance comprising BJP and undivided Shiv Sena won 23 and 18 seats, respectively, while independent/others 1. 

In 2019, the same situation prevailed, with the BJP and Shiv Sena winning 23 and 18 seats respectively, however, Congress was reduced to 1 seat while NCP remained at 4 and independent/others 2. 

In 2024, though the BJP-led NDA managed to come to power with Modi getting a third term, in Maharashtra, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (Congress-led I.N.D.I.A.) got 31 seats and Maha Yuti (BJP-led NDA) 17. 

As far as Shiv Sena is concerned, Thackeray’s party contested 21 seats and won 9 while Shinde’s party fielded candidates in 15 places and won 7. 

With Maharashtra Legislative Assembly polls just months away, the two Sena factions are facing a big challenge. 

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent issues pending in the Supreme Court, the elections to 29 municipal corporations of Maharashtra - which is more than 60-65 per cent of state’s 13 crore population -does not have an elected body. 

This include urban centres like Mumbai and eight other corporations of larger Mumbai metropolitan region -Thane, Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayander, Kalyan-Dombivli, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Panvel, and other civic bodies like  Nashik, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Amravati -where elections are due. 

There has been a lot of migration at the ground level involving both the camps plus there is resentment among the rank and files.

“The Shiv Sena has survived three splits - in 1991 by Chhagan Bhujbal, 1995 by Narayan Rane, 2005-06 by Raj Thackeray. However, the 2022 split by Shinde has been a major development in the 58 year history of the Shiv Sena,” a political observer said. 

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Published 20 June 2024, 11:46 IST

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