In the Shiv Sena factional fight in Maharashtra, Lok Sabha member Gajanan Kirtikar switched sides today, ditching Uddhav Thackeray’s camp to join Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction, called Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena.
Of the 18 Lok Sabha members of the Shiv Sena — before the mid-2022 split — Mr Kirtikar is the 13th to go with Eknath Shinde, who already has support of 40 of the party’s 56 MLAs and is in power, since unseating Mr Thackeray in June after a mutiny, with the BJP’s backing.
Mr Kirtikar’s move is not a total surprise. He was saying for a while now that Uddhav Thackeray “should understand” what Eknath Shinde did.
Mr Shinde tweeted after his joining: “Popular MP of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, Gajanan Kirtikar officially entered the party today. He was warmly welcomed on the occasion and we wished him good luck for social and political progress.”
मुंबई उत्तर पश्चिम लोकसभा मतदारसंघाचे लोकप्रिय खासदार गजानन कीर्तिकर यांनी आज #बाळासाहेबांची_शिवसेना पक्षात जाहीर प्रवेश केला. याप्रसंगी त्यांचे मनापासून स्वागत केले तसेच भावी सामाजिक आणि राजकीय वाटचालीकरिता त्यांना शुभेच्छा दिल्या.@GajananKirtikarpic.twitter.com/vCnAK003Wt
— Eknath Shinde – एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) November 11, 2022
The Thackeray faction — given the name Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) by the Election Commission, which is to take a final call on claims on the “real” Shiv Sena — has all three of the party’s Rajya Sabha members on its side, besides five Lok Sabha MPs.
Claim over the name and the bow-and-arrow symbol of the party founded by Uddhav Thackeray’s father, Bal Thackeray, will need more proof than just elected representatives. The Thackeray faction has given to the Election Commission a list of party office-bearers that it claims stand by it.
Shiv Sena (UBT) recently got a victory — electoral and moral — when it retained the Andheri East assembly seat in a bypoll, the first election it fought on its new symbol, mashaal or flaming torch.
The Shinde faction sat out, choosing to let ally BJP take the lead. The BJP withdrew its candidate as part of the state’s tradition of parties not fielding a candidate if the election is held because of the death of a sitting legislator, and their family is in the contest.