Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has new 'right hand' as Milind Narvekar gets replaced

Sena stalwarts such as former CM and now BJP union minister Narayan Rane, Uddhav Thackeray's cousin MNS chief Raj Thackeray, rebel Shiv Sena MP Mohan Rawale, all blamed Narvekar for creating a rift between them and Bal Thackeray and Uddhav.

Dharmesh ThakkarUpdated: Saturday, September 24, 2022, 11:29 PM IST
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Ravindra Mhatre with Shiv Sena founder Late Balasaheb Thackeray |

Milind Narvekar has been replaced as former Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s right-hand man by old faithful Ravindra Mhatre. Narvekar, erstwhile confidant of the family, has been missing from Thackeray’s side as the Sena faces its biggest challenge in a decade.

Narvekar is no stranger to controversy. Several party stalwarts such as former Chief Minister Narayan Rane, Uddhav’s cousin Raj Thackeray and three-time MP Mohan Rawale had all blamed him while leaving the Sena for creating a rift between them and party founder Bal Thackeray and his heir Uddhav.

Narvekar was also forced to demolish his 2,000 square foot sea-facing bungalow on a plot of about 1.8 acre at the Dapoli-Murud seashore in Ratnagiri district in Aug 2022 to escape action by the authorities since the bungalow was erected in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms. The unusual move by the Sena leader was considered an attempt to save the Thackerays from further embarrassment.

Mhatre had fallen out of favour with the Thackerays after killing an elderly woman and her daughter at a bus stop on the Western Express Highway on Holi day in Mar 2005 in a case of drunken driving. He was booked for speeding by the police and later granted bail.

He had started out as a member of Bal Thackeray’s private security but won the late Sena chief’s trust and went on to become his personal assistant, fixing appointments, reading letters, attending to telephone calls and conveying the party patriarch’s message.

“Milind Narvekar has lost the confidence of Uddhav Thackeray and been replaced by trusted old hands to deal with the challenges the Shiv Sena is facing with the rebellion in the party,” a senior office-bearer aware of the developments in Thackeray’s inner circle confirmed.

Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has made many changes in his core group and in the party’s office-bearers after the rebel Eknath Shinde group formed the government in alliance with the BJP. The arrest of party MP Sanjay Raut further rattled the Sena chief and he replaced his team to counter the growing dissent within the ranks.

When the rebellion broke out, Narvekar was sent to mediate with the Eknath Shinde faction but failed to bring the group to the negotiating table with Uddhav Thackeray. “The failure to assess the growing resentment and break the impasse with the rebels was taken by Uddhav Thackeray to heart and Narvekar was blamed,” the senior Shiv Sainik explained. “Narvekar’s rapport with Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde only added to the mistrust.”

Eknath Shinde’s well-publicised visit to Narvekar’s swanky residence at Khar for during Ganeshotsav only served to make the party old guard more uncomfortable about the proximity of the party chief’s aide with the rebels.

Mhatre started as a member of Shiv Sena supremo's private security guard and won the trust to become PA to the senior Thackeray for fixing appointments, reading letters, attending telephone calls and conveying messages to the aging patriarch.

“Milind Narvekar has lost the confidence of Uddhav Thackeray and replaced with old trusted hands to face the challenges Shiv Sena is facing with rebellion in rank and file,” confirmed a senior Shiv Sena functionary aware of the developments in the Uddhav Thackeray's inner circle.

Uddhav Thackeray has made many changes in his core group and party office bearers after the rebel Eknath Shinde group formed the state government in alliance with BJP. The arrest of MP Sanjay Raut further rattled the Shiv Sena chief and replaced his team to counter the growing dissent within the party fold.

Narvekar was the first to be sent to mediate with the Eknath Shinde faction in Guwahati but failed to bring the rebel group to talk with Uddhav Thackeray for a resolution. “The failure to assess the growing resentment and break the impasse with the rebel Shiv Sena was taken by Uddhav Thackeray to heart and Narvekar was blamed. Close rapport with Devendra Fadnavis and Eknath Shinde further added to the mistrust,” explained the senior Shiv Sainik.

Eknath Shinde's visit to Milnd Narvekar's swanky Khar residence for Ganesh darshan created further rift amongst the Shiv Sena old guards uncomfortable with the proximity shared by Uddhav aide and rebels.

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