Unlike in the past when Shiv Sena workers have hounded people who they suspected had turned against the party, the response of the cadre to Eknath Shinde’s rebellion remains rather muted on the streets of Maharashtra.
On Wednesday, the second day after Shinde’s rebellion, the Sena cadre was lacking in its aggressive streak, which they had shown when the party suffered earlier splits brought about by Narayan Rane and Chhagan Bhujbal.
Even as some small demonstrations took place since the news of Shinde’s rebellion broke in Mumbai and some parts of the state in solidarity or to show support to the CM and party president Uddhav Thackeray, most Shiv Sainiks in Thane and Mumbai hoped for things to get sorted out as soon as possible and were wary of speaking against Shinde.
While many looked angry, mostly silence and mixed emotions could be seen among the cadre. No one outrightly spoke against Shinde but wished him to return to the party fold.
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While some Shiv Sainiks in Thane, where Shinde has a strong hold, looked confused on which side to choose, some came out in support for Shinde and even put up posters in his support.
“We are angry but at the same time, we are also hurt and do not know what to do. Sena workers as well as the people of Thane loves and respects Shinde saheb for the work he has done after Anand Dighe. But at the same time, we also wish him not to leave Sena. The developments are hurtful and shocking for common Shiv Sainiks like us,” said Raja Jadhav, a resident of Thane and a Sena supporter.
Jagdish Thorat, the deputy Thane Shiv Sena unit head, said, “Whatever has happened is not good and we do not want Shinde saheb to leave Sena. We workers as well as Thanekars want Shinde saheb and Sena both. After Anand Dighe, Shinde saheb was the one who worked for the party and Thanekars and hence, he is also like a God-like figure like Anand Dighe.”
Mangesh Salvi, the former shakha pramukh of Chinchpokli, said, “There could be complaints against the party or issues against the functionaries, but one should not take such drastic step that will affect the party and its leadership. We are all disheartened and wish that Shinde saheb will return soon. The workers are angry and also frustrated.”
A Sena functionary said, “What happened when Chhgan Bhujbal or Narayan Rane left Shiv Sena is not what is happening now… At that time, Balasaheb Thackeray was alive. They had left the party for their selfishness but in case of Shinde, he is still in Sena and has not left the party for his own benefit but just has some objections and complaints.”
Milind Chavan, a Sena shakha pramukh of Vasai, said, “There is no question of protest since Shinde saheb is still in Sena and has not said anything against the party chief. Talks are on between the party chief and Shinde. The party is like a family and small issues happens in the family.”
“Shinde may have some an issues and hence, has taken such a step. I feel that it was an extreme step and could have been avoided. Sena workers love him because of the work he has done and do not wish him to leave the party.”