Rebel Shiv Sainiks warn against bad mouthing outgoing CM by BJP leaders
Poor Kirit Somaiya of the BJP has been asked to shut up by the party after he tweeted that he had thanked the 'rickshawwalla' chief minister for ousting the 'mafia' chief minister
It’s a fact universally known that former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya nurses a grudge against Uddhav Thackeray. So he worked day in and day out to destabilise the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in discomfort.
Now that Uddhav is out of power and BJP is in, Somaiya thought he could freely hit out at the Thackerays without running the risk of any FIR against him. But to his shock, Somaiya discovered this week that he still cannot speak against Uddhav and his former partymen. He was literally shut up by Devendra Fadnavis after the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs threatened to quit if Somaiya targeted the Thackerays.
Somaiya had recently tweeted that he had met the “rickshaw-wala chief minister”-- a reference to Eknath Shinde -- and thanked him for displacing the previous “mafia” chief minister.
This did not go down well with anyone—neither Uddhav’s supporters nor even the Eknath Shinde faction of Shiv Sainiks. They told the BJP leadership in no uncertain terms that they were not prepared to stand anyone maligning Uddhav Thackeray or using derogatory words against the former CM.
While Shinde faction spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar expressed severe displeasure at the insult, rebel MLA from Buldhana, Sanjay Gaikwad, categorically stated they would quit if the abuse continues. “Just because we have separated from the Shiv Sena, we should not be taken for granted. Despite the separation, we continue to be Shiv Sena workers. Just because we have split it does not mean we cease to be Shiv Sainiks. We will not tolerate any insult to Balasaheb Thackeray, Uddhav Thackeray or Aaditya Thackeray,” he said.
Sensing trouble, Devendra Fadnavis, now Deputy Chief Minister, is said to have asked Somaiya to keep his mouth shut under all circumstances.
An unhappy Somaiya, who was earlier encouraged by his party leaders to take on the Thackerays any which way -- though he made little headway in probing any charges against the family -- has been silent ever since.
Clearly, the rebels recognise that Uddhav is his father’s political heir and any targeting of him or his son would anger the large masses of Shiv Sena supporters who still revere Bal Thackeray. Any such targeting will bring hordes of them to the streets and they will leave no stone unturned to defeat the rebels.
This leaves Somaiya in a piquant situation -- he has long held personal animosity towards Uddhav Thackeray but he has also targeted Shiv Sena legislators like Pratap Sarnaik who is now in the Shinde camp.
Another of Somaiya’s targets, Yashwant Jadhav, the husband of rebel MLA Yamini Jadhav, is now confident that in joining hands with the BJP he, his wife and two sons -- against whom Somaiya had made charges of siphoning off large sums of money from the standing committee of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation -- will now escape action by the central agencies.
Now poor Somaiya is having to keep his lips sealed even on such small fry as Sarnaik and Jadhav.
The Congress has been quick to question Somaiya’s new-found amnesia on Sarnaik and Jadhav after such intense pursuit of them in the past year
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Rakesh Shetty raises the question of how suddenly Sarnaik and Jadhav seem to have become untainted after joining hands with the BJP. Shetty says the Shinde faction could not even form a separate party.
“They are calling themselves Shiv Sainiks of Bal Thackeray. What was the need to rebel against Uddhav when they were in love with Bal Thackeray and his ideas? Family matters should have been resolved within the family. Now the rebel MLAs are strategically showing their respect to the Thackeray family to save their future,” he said.
Political analyst Abhimanyu Shitole points out that Shiv Sena is inseparable from the Thackeray brand and nothing will be gained by abusing Uddhav Thackeray.
Says political analyst Abhay Deshpande, “Now even Shiv Sainiks are intelligent. They know very well who to go with, Uddhav or Shinde. They have only formed a government with BJP. They haven’t changed their party or their leader. Wait and watch.”
(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)