In a bid to not antagonise the party cadre and continuing with their claim that they are still a part of Shiv Sena, rebels led by Eknath Shinde on Saturday appeared to softened their stance against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and instead directed their attack against ally NCP.
This comes amid the Shinde group also starting to mobilise supporters across state to show its mass base.
While MLA Deepak Kesarkar, a part of the rebel group, alleged that NCP was out to finish Shiv Sena, the faction evoked the late Balasaheb Thackeray to gain greater foothold and acceptance within Sainiks by naming itself ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb’.
Speaking to the media, Kesarkar said, “We are Balasaheb’s Shiv Sainiks. Therefore, we will not speak against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. The NCP is out to finish Shiv Sena. How could any Sena MLA tolerate such a thing? They came to power because of Shiv Sena and now is plotting to finish our party.”
Maintaining that while Sena was the biggest political party in Maha Vikas Aghadi, yet, “there was discrimination against its elected members when it came to allocation of funds”, he claimed.
“The NCP was generously allocating funds to its own party members. Concerns voiced by Sena ministers went unheeded.”
Kesarkar added, “From the very beginning, we have been telling Uddhav Thackeray that Shiv Sena should have an alliance with BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has special affection for Matoshree and Balasaheb.”
“During the BJP-led government, whenever we had any problems, we would inform Uddhavji. He would take up our issues with then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Unfortunately, these things are not happening in the Maha Vikas Aghadi regime.”
Asserting that rebels were still in Shiv Sena, Kesarkar said that those camping in Guwahati had neither left the party nor Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology. “We are not taking away the original party’s title. We have just decided to address our group by the name ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb’,” he added.
“We have a two-thirds majority of 55 MLAs. The Shiv Sena is left with just 16-17 MLAs. We are entitled to be recognised as a separate group. So, there is no question of merger with any party,” he further said.Rebel MLA Tanaji Sawant added, “The NCP was deliberately promoting its own candidates in Sena’s constituencies by allocating more funds.”
Minister and rebel Gulabrao Patil claimed that of the total state budget of Rs 5.48 lakh crore, NCP got 57 per cent of the funds, Congress 26 per cent and Sena only 16 per cent.
Meanwhile, as Sainiks attacked the office of rebel Tanaji Sawant and warned that all rebels would be treated
similarly, the Shinde camp indicated it would also take to streets to counter the protests if necessary.
At Thane, MP Shrikant Shinde, son of Eknath Shinde, addressed supporters at a street corner meeting. “We have received strict instructions from Eknath Shinde not to protest or attack anybody. But if Sainiks don’t behave, we will be forced to give a befitting reply.”
At the meeting, huge posters of Bal Thackeray and Thane’s fiery leader, late Anand Dighe, were seen.