Who Is Eknath Shinde? The Shiv Sena Leader At The Centre Of Maharashtra Political Crisis

 

After his 2014 victory, Shinde was elected as the leader of the legislative party of the Shiv Sena and subsequently the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly.

New Delhi: Maharashtra Urban Development Minister and top Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who has gone incommunicado along with other party MLAs, has pushed Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government into a major political crisis. 58-year-old Shinde has the loyalty of many party MLAs and this could be a worrying factor for the Thackerays. Elected for four back-to-back terms -- 2004, 2009, 2014, and 2019 -- in the Maharashtra Assembly, he enjoys popular support and is responsible for organizing the Shiv Sena’s big events.

After his 2014 victory, Shinde was elected as the leader of the legislative party of the Shiv Sena and subsequently the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly.

In the 10 years from year 2004 to 2014, as the MLA of the main Opposition party in the assembly, Shinde consistently raised many important issues concerning the state in general and Thane in particular, the most prominent being The Cluster Development scheme for dilapidated illegal buildings in Thane and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Thane metro, a new extended thane station between Thane and Mulund, water scarcity, coastal security of the state, modernisation of the police force, inflation and increasing debt of the state.

Shinde, who hails from the Maratha community of the mountainous Jawali taluka in Satara, Maharashtra, has considerable clout in the Shiv Sena stronghold Thane. He is responsible for strengthening the party in many other places as well.

While doing odd jobs early in his career, he came under the influence of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and party’s Thane district chief Anand Dighe.

He joined the Shiv Sena in 1980s and was appointed Shakha Pramukh of Kisan Nagar. Since then, he has been at the forefront of many agitations undertaken by his party on social and political issues such as inflation, black marketing, hoarding of essential commodities such as palm oil by traders etc.

He also took part in Maharashtra-Karnataka border agitation in 1985 in which he was imprisoned in the Bellary Jail for over 40 days.

His son Dr Shrikant Shinde, an orthopaedic surgeon, got elected as a Member of Parliament to the Lok Sabha from the Kalyan constituency and his brother Prakash Shinde is a Councillor.

A miffed Shinde going unreachable along with other party MLAs after rumours of cross-voting in the Maharashtra legislative council elections on Monday has posed a question mark on the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s government survival.

This development comes as both the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been grappling with the ‘numbers game’ to secure their respective positions for the past 30 months following a fractured verdict in the October 2019 Maharashtra Assembly polls.

The mid-way mark is 144 in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly, while the current strength is 287 as one Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke of Mumbai passed away recently.

In addition, there is a significant 29-strong group of MLAs, who are independents or from smaller parties and who have become important for both the ruling MVA and the BJP, reported news agency IANS.

The ruling alliance with the support of smaller parties and independents commands around 169 MLAs, including 55 from the Shiv Sena, 53 from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and 44 from the Congress.

The BJP currently has 106 legislators. Besides, the saffron party also enjoys the support of smaller parties and independents, taking its tally to around 114.

The rest five MLAs, as per the news agency, are unattached to either group.

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