13th MP joins Shinde group, Sena-UBT remains unfazed

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena group on Saturday downplayed the exit of Gajanan Kirtikar, Sena MP from Mumbai North West, and said it was “not shocked” and his absence will make “no difference” to the party.

The 79-year-old political leader is the 13th Shiv Sena MP to have rebelled and joined hands with the Eknath Shinde faction, now called the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena. Only six of the total 19 MPs elected on the Sena ticket are still with Uddhav Thackeray.

“People like Gajanan Kirtikar leaving the party after enjoying all posts and perks (of the party) is unfortunate. It creates doubt in people’s minds… about loyalty. Now that he is gone, people will forget him from tomorrow onwards,” said Shiv Sena (UBT) chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut. “His absence will not make any difference to the party… It (Kirtikar’s exit) was not at all a shock… If 13 MPs have gone, they also have to get re-elected, and we will see how many of them are re-elected.”

Nineteen MPs were elected on the Shiv Sena ticket during the 2019 general election in Maharashtra. All the 13 MPS who have left the Thackeray faction by now have accused Uddhav Thackeray of “deserting Hindutva ideology” and allowing the NCP  to weaken the Sena.

Kirtikar joined Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena in the presence of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde during an event organised by MP Rahul Shewale and MLA Sada Sarvankar at Ravindra Natya Mandir in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi on Friday evening. Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana on Saturday announced that Kiritkar had been removed from the party for indulging in anti-party activities.

Kirtikar, a Shiv Sena old-timer, has served as an MLA for four terms and was also a minister in the first Shiv Sena-BJP government that was elected to power in 1999. After joining the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, Kirtikar blamed the NCP and said, “NCP was responsible for the split of the Shiv Sena. The rebellion in Shiv Sena took place because of NCP, which had called the shots… While in power, NCP availed the maximum advantage. When the effect of Pawarshahi and Uddhavshahi weakens, the Shivshahi — led by Eknath Shinde — will reign in Maharashtra.”

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