Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s hometown witnessed an ugly tussle between his Shiv Sena and the Shiv Sena (UBT) activists each trying to grab a local ‘shakha’ (branch) of the party late on Monday.
The Vartak Nagar Police rushed to the Shivainagar to intervene in the minor scuffle and managed to peacefully disperse the crowds as ‘holika dahan’ was celebrated with joy in the vicinity.
The activists of the two rival factions converged at the Shivainagar ‘shakha’ set up by the Shiv Sena attempting to establish their supremacy over it, in view of the upcoming civic elections.
The ‘shakha’ is currently being controlled by ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT) but the rival Shiv Sena members allegedly attempted to install their banner and take it over.
The fracas saw some jostling among the two factions, a high-decibel slogan-shouting and condemnation on both sides for nearly an hour before the police calmed them and the groups went their ways.
Late in the night, a video of the ruckus outside the ‘shakha’ went viral with police patiently separating them and later clearing up the crowds.
Earlier, the Shiv Sena had taken over the party offices in the Maharashtra legislature and parliament, and is said to be coveting other establishments and offices in different parts of the state.
However, the iconic Shiv Sena Bhavan in Dadar, Mumbai – which belongs to a family trust of the Thackerays’ – is retained by Sena (UBT), and the Shinde faction set up a new Central Office in Thane last month.
Founded by the late Balasaheb Thackeray, the Shiv Sena had set up over 160 local neighbourhood ‘shakhas’ in Mumbai, and many more in its strongholds in Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Palghar and other districts to interact directly with the local population.
These local branches – run by a powerful ‘Shakha Pramukh’ – tried to solve people’s grievances with the local or state governments and also proved a success to the party for winning various elections, and many ‘Shakha Pramukhs’ later rose to become important party functionaries, elected to civic bodies, assembly and parliament.