Eknath Shinde appoints new Sena national executive

Speculation rife about 12 Sena LS MPs deserting Uddhav camp

Updated - July 19, 2022 05:31 pm IST

Published - July 18, 2022 10:06 pm IST - Pune

Ramdas Kadam (left) and Sanjay Raut.

Ramdas Kadam (left) and Sanjay Raut. | Photo Credit: File photo

In another jolt to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, the rebel Sena camp led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced a new national executive committee even as rumours swirled of an imminent exodus of 12 of the 19 Lok Sabha MPs from the parent group to the ruling one.

Sources said the dozen could switch sides during Mr. Shinde’s visit to Delhi on Tuesday to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the Cabinet expansion of the new Sena (Shinde camp)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Maharashtra.

Ever since Mr. Shinde’s intra-party revolt last month, which saw him move away with 39 other Sena MLAs and topple the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, there have been persistent reports of several of the Sena MPs being in touch with the Shinde camp in order to form a breakaway group in the Lower House of Parliament.

However, Uddhav loyalist and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut dismissed speculation of a split in the party’s Lok Sabha group calling it an attempt to “mislead people”.

Kadam resigns

On Monday, Mr. Thackeray’s dwindling band of supporters lost another key member in the form of former Maharashtra Minister Ramdas Kadam. In his resignation letter, Mr. Kadam complained to Mr. Thackeray that he had been consistently “insulted” when the former was CM of the State. “Since Balasaheb Thackeray’s death, being a leader in the Shiv Sena has no value left,” said the old Sena hand from the Konkan region, who was dropped from the erstwhile MVA Cabinet.

Fissures within the Sena’s top leadership had emerged in December last year after Mr. Kadam had accused his party colleague Anil Parab – a close confidant of Mr. Thackeray – of trying to finish off the party by colluding with the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party.

Mr. Kadam’s son, Dapoli MLA Yogesh Kadam, has already joined hands with the Shinde camp.

Following Mr. Kadam’s letter, Mr. Thackeray promptly sacked him, along with another senior leader Anandrao Adsul, for “anti-party activities”.

Both leaders were ‘reinducted’ into CM Shinde’s new national executive committee at a meeting of rebel MLAs held at Mumbai’s Trident Hotel in the evening.

While CM Shinde dismissed the ‘old’ Sena national executive committee to be elected as ‘chief leader’ of the new executive constituted by the rebel camp, rebel MLA Deepak Kesarkar was appointed its spokesperson.

Besides Mr. Kadam and Mr. Adsul, who have been appointed as ‘leaders’ in this new executive, other rebel members like Yashwant Jadhav, Gulabrao Patil, Uday Samant, Sharad Ponkshe, Tanaji Sawant and ex-MP Shivajirao Adharao Patil among others have been appointed as the national executive’s ‘deputy leaders’.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Mr. Raut, flanked by other Uddhav camp loyalists, said the national executive committee announced by the Shinde camp had “no legal basis”. “The Shiv Sena is where the Thackerays are,” he said.

A meeting of MPs loyal to Mr. Thackeray which included Rajya Sabha MPs Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai, along with Lok Sabha MPs Vinayak Raut and Rajan Vichare, was held at Mr. Raut’s residence.

Sources said the rebel Sena camp is said to be gunning for MP Rahul Shewale to be appointed as leader of the party’s Lok Sabha group in lieu of Vinayak Raut, who is currently the Sena group leader in the Lower House.

While the Uddhav camp had recently sacked MP Bhawna Gavli as chief whip in the Lok Sabha, the Shinde faction has said she would remain in that position.

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