Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Shiv Sena (UBT) Gears Up For Do-Or-Die Battle Amid Intra-Party Turmoil

Maharashtra Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Shiv Sena (UBT) Gears Up For Do-Or-Die Battle Amid Intra-Party Turmoil

This is the first major election after Eknath Shinde and his group of 36 MLAs in a coup pulled down the Uddhav Thackeray government in June 2022 and formed his own government with the support of the BJP.

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Friday, March 22, 2024, 10:02 PM IST
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Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray | @OfficeofUT Twitter

The Shiv Sena (UBT) is in the do-or-die mode vis-a-vis the upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha. This is the first major election  after Eknath Shinde and his group of 36 MLAs in a coup pulled down the Uddhav Thackeray government in June 2022 and formed his own government with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Shinde was with Uddhav till 24 hours before he revolted, but the latter had no clue about the impending rebellion. Uddhav could'nt believe that a man who used to wait hand and foot on him would brutally stab him in the back. 

But now Uddhav and his articulate MLA son Aaditya are determined to teach Shinde a lesson of his life for what they call his "gaddari" or betrayal. Even as seat-sharing talks are going on between the constituents of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), Uddhav is on a whirlwind tour of different regions of Maharashtra for holding "samvad" or dialogue with the voters. He does not miss a single opportunity to lampoon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. He barely conceals his bitterness against Modi and his party for masterminding the downfall of his government.  

Uddhav has given strict instructions to second rung party leaders and the rank and file that they should ensure the  defeat of all Shiv Sena (Shinde) candidates. The party is now in a feverish mode preparing itself for polls. Extra attention is being paid to constituencies like Thane which is the home turf of Shinde.

The party had fielded sitting MP Rajan Vichare again from Thane and a prestige issue has been made of ensuring his victory. In Kalyan, there is still no clarity if Shinde's son Shrikant will be repeated since the BJP is staking its claim to it. But, if Shrikant is fielded then Shiv Sena (UBT) will try its best to ensure his defeat. 

The Shiv Sena led by Shinde has got itself declared as the real Shiv Sena and has even got the symbol - Bow and Arrow. This is a major advantage for it. But it has to face the problem of being labelled as "gaddars" (back stabbers). Uddhav and others have also been consistently alleging that Shinde and his cohorts were given several crores of rupees by the BJP to defect. When Bal Thackeray was alive, dissent was simply not tolerated and those unwilling to toe the party line were physically assaulted. But, now Uddhav is using the polls to teach a lesson Shinde & Co.

Uddhav and his party are facing a major disadvantage in that the traditional Bow & Arrow symbol is not theirs anymore. They have to popularise the new symbol "Mashal" (flaming torch) among the voters. But the party has already launched that exercise. 

Both the Shinde Sena and the BJP thought the Shiv Sena (UBT) would be emaciated after the split in the party and ED action against several of its tier two leaders like Anil Parab, Sanjay Raut etc. But that is not happening. If anything the Shiv Sena (UBT), which is facing the polls with its back to the wall, is more determined now than ever to win the polls. After all it is a question of the very existence of the party founded by Balasaheb.

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