Eknath Shinde, the Shiv Sainik and the rebel who not only took on Shiv Sena, his parent party but also the ‘first family’ of Mumbai, the Thackeray’s to become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra is indeed a story of rags to riches.
When the man who once drove autos on the streets of Mumbai, the commercial capital of the country, drives the same lanes as the Chief Minister of the state, he has much to look back upon and introspect over his life’s journey.
After an intense political drama of around ten days when Eknath Shinde finally won the battle ground and was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Mahrashtra he not only writes a new political story for the state but also drives home the point that politics is the game of unpredtables. The spectacular rise of Shinde in the city of dreams as a politician indeed makes for a typical Bollywood’s script.
Once a Shiv Sena loyalist and right hand man of party chief Uddhav Thackeray and son of Bala Saheb, Shinde has suddenly become a national face after he took on the party and the family instrumental in his meteoric rise.
An auto-driver with humble background, Shinde, later started driving Sena’s Thane district president Nanad Dighe’s car. Shinde’s political spark was discovered and used by Dighe, who was known as “King of Thane” then. Shinde became his eyes and ears.
Closeness with Dighe helped Shinde got elected as a cooperator in the Thane Municipal Corporation. Consequently, he became an MLA and the rest is history.
A four time MLA and two-time minister, Shinde’s organization skills and manpower management helped Shiv Sena in increasing its mass base and fund collection.
With the current political drama it appear that ambitious Shinde has been eyeing the Deputy CM’s post when Sena was bargaining with the BJP over power sharing, in 2019. But his dreams perhaps were shattered when Uddhav Thackeray decided to form government along with NCP and Congress.
In addition, the same time, Uddhav’s son, Aaditya Thackeray, too, joined the cabinet and became Number two in the party, diminishing Shinde’s position in party.
It was Aaditya’s entry to Sena politics that seems to have rattled the rebel leader most. The sources in the Shiv Sena claim that since the party tied up with Congress and NCP, Thackeray moved away from its Hindutva plank with more focus on placating the allies rather than their own legislators leaving
Shinde and others left out, sidelined, insulted. The rebellion it seems has been fuming for some time.
Many even alleged that Thackeray remained inaccessible most of the time and Thackeray’s deviation from “strong Hindutva” to “soft Hindutva” left Shinde and other leaders upset.
Later, when Uddhav was undergoing spine surgery, Shinde made use of the communication gap between the CM and party MLA’s as an excuse for his rebellion. He apparently exploited this to his favour by bringing several legislators on his side, resulting in the biggest revolt against Thackeray family in Sena’s history.
Shinde has not only destabilised the alliance government but also shaken the foundations of the Sena.