In yet another blow to Uddhav Thackeray’s camp, Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar joined the Eknath Shinde-led party faction Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena. After the split in Shiv Sena in June this year, no fewer than 13 of the 18 Shiv Sena MPs, including Kirtikar, have lent their support to Shinde.
Shinde, who led the uprising to topple Thackeray with the support of the BJP, enjoys the support of at least 40 of the party’s 56 MLAs and several heads of state.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut claimed Friday that at least some of the rebel MLAs will return to the party fold. “Some of them will definitely come back. I am confident that some will return,” Raut . said PTIA.
“What has Shiv Sena not done for these people? The party has done more for them than for me,” said Raut, who was recently released on bail in a case under the Money Laundering Prevention Act (PMLA).
In the recent Andheri East bypoll, Rutuja Latke, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction, came out victorious. Shinde Camp, BJP, NCP and Congress had not placed their candidates in the contest.
Previously, Nihar Thackeray, the grandson of the founder of Shiv Sena, the late Bal Thackeray, also supported the Eknath Shinde faction.
The battle between the two groups has intensified in the run-up to the BMC elections. Both groups held separate Dussehra meetings last month. The Thackeray faction held its meeting at the historic Shivaji Park in Dadar in central Mumbai, a venue associated with the Shiv Sena since its inception in 1966, while the Shinde camp held the event at the MMRDA grounds in the Bandra Kurla complex in Mumbai.
Shinde and 39 other Sena lawmakers had rebelled against the party leadership in June, after which the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government fell. On June 30, Shinde was sworn in as the CM, along with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
(with PTI inputs)
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