Aditya Thackeray’s entry into govt made the second-most important Shiv Sena leader feel demoted
Geetanjali Minhas | July 1, 2022 | Mumbai
Hailing from Satara district of Maharashtra, Eknath Sambhaji Shinde had to leave his education midway to financially support his family. He worked as an auto rickshaw driver, a lorry driver and also said to have worked in a brewery before he came in contact with Anand Dighe, Shiv Sena’s Thane unit president, in the 1980s who persuaded him to become a full time Shiv Sainik.
It was then that Shinde started his political career as a Sena worker under the leadership of Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe.
Shinde idolized Dighe who was known for giving diktats and solve fights and slowly became his close aide. With his organisational skills and people connect, Shinde rose to power in the party. Seeing his dedication to the Shiv Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray, the party offered him his first political opportunity in 1997 by giving him a ticket to contest the Thane municipal corporation elections. He won with a huge margin. In 2001, he was elected as the leader of the house in the Thane municipal corporation. In 2004 he contested assembly polls from Thane and won with a handsome majority. In 2005, he was given the much-coveted post of Shiv Sena Thane district head.
Shinde continued to win between 2009 and 2019 in the assembly elections. Considered the second most prominent leader in the Shiv Sena, when he won the assembly elections for the third time in 2014, he was appointed the leader of opposition in the assembly for a brief period when Sena had still not finalised its pact with its then ally BJP for joining the Fadnavis government. After the pact, Shinde was appointed as the cabinet minister of PWD in the Fadnavis government. During 2014-19 he was also the Thane district guardian minister.
Shinde’s association with Fadnavis became a matter of much discussion in Shiv Sena when the BJP contested all civic elections against the Shiv Sena in 2016 – except for the Thane municipal corporation.
In 2019, after Shiv Sena came to power with the MVA coalition, Shinde became a cabinet minister and was given the charge of the urban development department as well as PWD. In 2020 Uddhav Thackeray made him the guardian minister of Thane yet again.
With Aditya Thackeray entering politics and bringing in his own group of people, Shinde felt he was losing importance in the party and feeling relegated. Shinde has said that he was not given a free hand in his department, there were interferences and efforts to sideline him. He was also not consulted in crucial decisions.
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