Opening up for the first time since the rebellion, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Monday said that Shiv Sena had subjected him to injustice throughout even as he silently and relentlessly worked for the expansion of the organisation following the footsteps of political mentors Bal Thackeray and Anand Dighe.
In his 70-minute speech, delivered in the state Assembly after winning the trust vote, Shinde allowed his emotions to flow as he wandered the memory lane.
“In 2019, my candidature for the chief minister’s post was discussed but at the last minute, it went to Uddhav Thackeray. NCP leader Ajit Pawar had confided in me that I was in the reckoning. But due to internal issues within the Sena, I was denied the post. Also, in 2014, during the Sena-BJP government, then CM Devendra Fadnavis was willing to give deputy CM’s post to Sena,” he said.
“The revolt is not the outcome of one day. It is not for any power or CM’s post. The large number of MLAs who joined me did not bargain. They wanted to break away from the Congress and NCP. The idea of compromising Balasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva was unacceptable,” Shinde said.
He added, “During the (last) two-and-a-half years, we experienced that even after being in Sena, we could not take action against those allied with Dawood Ibrahim. We could not laud Veer Savarkar because we were with Congress.”
“Balasaheb Thackeray had said once that Shiv Sena will never go along with NCP and Congress to form a government… ‘Congress and NCP are our enemy and will remain the enemy of Shiv Sena. I am here till Shiv Sena is there. When I will not be there, then Sena will turn into Congress’. The moment he (Balasaheb) realises that Sena is becoming Congress, he will dissolve the party. These are the words of Balasaheb Thackeray. So, we have done nothing wrong,” Shinde said.
“All the 40 (rebel) MLAs have come (together) for ideology… they decided that the mistake which took place two-and-a-half years ago should be rectified,” he added.
During his address, Shinde broke down as he recalled the death of his two children in a boat accident in 2000 and the support he received from Anand Dighe. “There was not a single moment in my entire career spanning over four decades when I had stopped working for the Sena. I did what was best for the party till the last minute.”
On NCP leader Ajit Pawar’s statement that whoever tries to break Sena does not win in the elections again, Shinde said, “None of us have left Shiv Sena… in the next election, both the Sena factions and BJP will get 200 seats… I promise and take responsibility that none of these 50 MLAs would lose in the elections.”
“If I fail to deliver, I will return to my village and do farming,” he added.
Alleging that Sena tracked the cellphone location of rebel MLAs and started nakabandi to stop them, Shinde said, “I also know how to dodge nakabandi.”
He revealed that he had met Fadnavis when the rebel MLAs were camping at a hotel in Guwahati. “No one knew how and when we would meet. I used to go at night and return in the morning.”
Shinde claimed that with Uddhav Thackeray at the helm as CM, Sainiks received secondary treatment.
“Shiv Sainiks suffered in the MVA. Some faced cases, some were facing FIRs… they used to come to me for help… What did the Shiv Sainiks get in the MVA government? Nothing.”
He added that he used to give them funds from the kitty of the urban development department led by him. “But how much I can do alone? The point is that the government’s benefit should have gone to the grassroot-level Shiv Sainik because Uddhav saheb was the CM and the people had expectations from him. If we are not going to help them when we are in the government, then when would we have helped?” he asked.
To smaller allies like SP and AIMIM, Shinde reassured that his Hindutva was inclusive.
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