A key member of the rebel faction of Shiv Sena MLAs in Maharashtra has claimed Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar was behind the earlier splits in the saffron party and his alleged role in revolts caused pain to its founder Bal Thackeray.
Deepak Kesarkar, a Sena MLA and spokesperson for the rebel faction headed by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, sought to know what Pawar gained by causing pain to Bal Thackeray.
It is a fact that whenever the Shiv Sena has split, Pawar saheb had a role to play,” he said in New Delhi on Wednesday. Kesarkar said “Matoshree” (the private residence of the Thackerays in suburban Mumbai) has never gone to “Silver Oak” (Pawar’s home in south Mumbai). “Why did he (Pawar) engineer splits that caused pain to Balasaheb (Thackeray)?” the Sena legislator, who was once in the NCP, asked.
Before the last month’s revolt by a section of MLAs led by Shinde, the 56-year-old Shiv Sena has seen rebellions by its influential leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal, Narayan Rane, and Raj Thackeray, the cousin of party president Uddhav Thackeray.
Once a firebrand leader of the Shiv Sena, Bhujbal quit the party and joined the Congress in 1991. He later became a member of the NCP after Pawar floated the party in 1999 after leaving Congress. Konkan strongman Rane, a former Sena chief minister who is now in the BJP, quit the Bal Thackeray-founded party in 2005.
“These things are not to be revealed. I was witness to this. Pawar saheb said this to me in confidence that although ‘I helped Rane to quit the Sena, I did not lay any condition which party he should join. This means he provided whatever help Rane needed. He took Bhujbal (with him in NCP),” Kesarkar said. The Shiv Sena suffered another jolt when Raj Thackeray quit and formed his own outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) in 2006. Raj Thackeray and Rane had blamed Uddhav Thackeray for their decision to quit the party. “And you are aware, his blessings were always there for Raj saheb because he has high regards for him (Pawar),” Kesarkar added.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led faction of the Shiv Sena is an ally of the NCP, which was part of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.