Thane: After Anand Dighe, Eknath Shinde, who has been holding sway over the Shiv Sena in Thane district, used to have a public discussion in his immediate circles that the political alliance formed by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray with the Congress and NCP is not very interesting. Even after the change of power in the state, Shinde had close ties with BJP leaders in cities like Thane, Kalyan and Dombivali as well as circles associated with the Sangh. While interim Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat was in Thane, Shinde met him at a public function and felicitated him. During the Kovid period, a large cadre of Sangh workers was working in the Wagle Estate area where Shinde’s stronghold was located. Shinde and his supporters were always on hand to help these congregations. Though Shiv Sena has taken a different direction in the politics of the state, Shinde seems to be pursuing a similar policy of maintaining the old friendship with the Sangh and the BJP in Thane.
Through leaders like Rambhau Mhalgi and Ram Kapase, the influence of Sangh and BJP has always been seen in Thane, Dombivali belt. Anand Dighe, however, by engaging in aggressive politics of Hindutva, grabbed the BJP-held seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha from Shiv Sena and took full care of how Shiv Sena would remain a big brother in district politics. Even Eknath Shinde, who took over the reins of Shiv Sena after Dighe, did not allow the party’s influence to diminish. However, he took full care of how to maintain good relations with the organizations and workers associated with the Sangh. Shinde’s politics continued in the same manner as attending the morning meetings of the Sangh, interacting with the Sangh-loyalists in Thane-Kalyan, and maintaining cordial relations with the BJP leaders and MLAs. During the Shiv Sena-BJP friendship, Shinde took care that the BJP would not be hurt much while allocating seats or sharing power among the local bodies.
The question before Shiv Sena was who to field against Anand Paranjape, who left Shiv Sena and joined NCP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. At that time, Shinde decided to bring his son, who was not even in the village, into the fray. A large cadre of BJP-Sanghanishthas has remained effective in Kalyan Dombivali. The turban of pro-Hindu ideology is also on these cities. Therefore, Shinde had assessed that Kalyan would be safer for his son than Thane. The ensuing Kalyan Dombivali municipal elections saw a fierce struggle between Shinde and the BJP. Even after that, Shinde continued to worry that the Sangh-BJP in Dombivali would not be hurt. Devendra Fadnavis’s close associates, Minister Ravindra Chavan, Union Minister of State Kapil Patil, Niranjan Davkhare in Thane and other BJP leaders will have a good dialogue with Shinde. However, Shinde’s father and son were always at loggerheads with Jitendra Awhad, a colleague in the state cabinet. Shinde was not readily available for Congress and NCP office bearers, leaders and activists in Thane district. Shinde’s faction has clearly stated that the Congress does not want to fight the Thane and Kalyan elections with the NCP. MP Shrikant Shinde had often made such a public statement. MP Shinde used to give a ‘voice’ in public meetings that he would not take the lead in Thane, Dombivali and should not be forced to do so. The message was that if the time came, the role of the end would be taken.
The BJP leaders who were making allegations against Shiv Sena leaders all over the state did not go to Thane. Local leaders of BJP used to take an aggressive stance against Shinde’s father and sons, but due to lack of support from state leaders, many were realizing that something was brewing. Aditya Thackeray’s interference in the affairs of Urban Development Department MMRDA had angered Eknath Shinde. BJP state leaders were also waiting for the right opportunity. Eknath Shinde, a friend of BJP and BJP, got this opportunity in the Legislative Council elections and on Monday, it became clear to many.