Raj Thackeray suspects Sharad Pawar’s hand in nephew Ajit’s defection

MNS chief says he won’t be surprised if Supriya Sule “becomes a Central Minister tomorrow”

July 05, 2023 02:35 am | Updated 02:35 am IST - Pune

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Chief Raj Thackeray. | Photo Credit: ANI

Remarking that it was Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar who first started the politics of party-splitting in the State, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday said that the current political scenario was “a gross insult to the voters of Maharashtra”.

He reiterated his suspicions that Mr. Pawar had a hand in the developments that led his nephew, NCP leader Ajit Pawar, joining the ruling Eknath Shinde-BJP government and the swift swearing-in of Mr. Pawar as Deputy CM, along with eight other NCP legislators as Ministers.

“What is happening currently is extremely distressing. No one can be sure about who is in which party any more. It is an unfortunate situation in Maharashtra. I would not be surprised if Supriya Sule [Mr. Pawar’s daughter] becomes a Minister in the Centre tomorrow. This is not something that happened suddenly. It was being plotted over many days,” said Mr. Thackeray, speaking in Pune.

The MNS chief said that it was Mr. Pawar who had started the trend of splitting parties in 1978 (when Mr. Pawar toppled Congressman Vasantdada Patil’s government to become CM of Maharashtra).

“In 1978, when Mr. Pawar staged his coup, Maharashtra had not witnessed anything like it before,” Mr. Thackeray said.

He said that senior NCP leaders and hitherto close confidantes of Mr. Pawar like Praful Patel, Dilip Walse-Patil and Chhagan Bhujbal were “not the kind of people to go with Ajit Pawar.”

“Furthermore, even while all this is going on, Ajit Pawar makes a statement urging that Sharad Pawar’s photo be put up in all flex boards. All this is suspicious,” said Mr. Thackeray.

He denied that there were any demands from MNS workers urging the estranged Thackeray cousins to come together again.

On Monday, a poster put up in Dadar by an MNS leader had exhorted Mr. Thackeray and his bitter rival – Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray – to join forces in light of the bewildering political alignments currently taking place in the State.

“Politics in Maharashtra has become muddy,” read the poster put up by MNS leader Laxman Patil, in a veiled allusion to the rampant defections from the Shiv Sena and the NCP.

The poster further adds, “Rajsaaheb-Uddhavsaaheb come together now. Entire Maharashtra is waiting for you – an earnest request of a Maharashtrian soldier.”

The rivalry between the cousins had come to a head after Raj Thackeray, once seen as Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s heir, exited the party to found the MNS in 2006.

Raj Thackeray had categorically blamed Uddhav Thackeray and his coterie for compelling him to quit the party, claiming he was being marginalised in the Shiv Sena.

While the MNS was once a potent force in the State’s politics, its fortunes have rapidly dwindled since 2013.

Uddhav Thackeray, too, has suffered a major setback and his now fighting for the existence of his faction after Eknath Shinde’s revolt last year.

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