In what has exposed the fault lines between ruling allies, Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the later has walked off with a chunk of Sena corporators in Ahmednagar district. What has riled the Shiv Sena further is that the dissidents have joined the NCP in the presence of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar in Baramati.
On Saturday, the five corporators, Mudassar Sayyad, Nandkumar Deshmukh, Kisan Gandhade, Vaishali Auti and Nanda Deshmane, from the Parner municipal council in Ahmednagar joined the NCP in Pawar’s presence.
“These corporators joined the NCP as they were upset with the internal politics in the Shiv Sena and the attitude of the local leadership… I tried to dissuade them as the NCP and Sena are both part of the government, but they opened negotiations with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after which we gave our consent. After all, the MVA’s fight is with the BJP,” said Nilesh Lanke, NCP legislator from Parner in Ahmednagar.
Lanke added that this could not be interpreted as accretion in the Shiv Sena’s ranks as the corporators would remain part of the MVA as NCP members.
However, the move has upset the Shiv Sena. “This is serious as the Deputy Chief Minister has lured men from the Chief Minister’s party,” said former Shiv Sena MLA and ex-state legislative assembly deputy speaker Vijayrao Auti.
In the 2019 assembly elections, Auti, a three-term MLA from Parner, had been defeated by Lanke, who is a former Shiv Sainik, who shifted to the NCP.
The Shiv Sena and NCP share an overlapping social base and pockets of support, especially in regions like Western Maharashtra and Marathwada, where one party may grow at the expense of the other. Shiv Sena leaders complain that when it comes to local politics, the NCP steals a march over them in a co-ordinated manner, with the active consent of the state leadership of the party.