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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Uddhav Thackeray Faction MP Gajanan Kirtikar Joins Eknath Shinde

Kirtikar is the 13th MP to go with Shinde, who has support of 40 of the party's 56 MLAs

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: In yet another jolt to Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray, MP Gajanan Kirtikar, representing Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, joined the Eknath Shinde faction in a function held at Ravindra Natya Mandir at Prabhadevi in Central Mumbai on Friday night.

In a swift reaction, the Thackeray faction removed Kirtikar from the leader post. In a statement on Friday night, Shiv Sena MP and Secretary Vinayak Raut said that Kirtikar had been removed from the post of the party leader for his “anti-party activities”.

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After Kirtikar joined his “Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena”, Shinde tweeted, ” “Popular MP of Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency, Gajanan Kirtikar officially entered the party today. He was warmly welcomed on occasion, and we wish him good luck for social and political progress.”

Kirtikar is the 13th MP to go with Shinde, who has the support of 40 of the party’s 56 MLAs and has been in power since unseating Thackeray in June after a rebellion, with the BJP’s backing.

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In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Shiv Sena won 18 seats. In November last year, Kalaben Mohan Delkar won the by-election to Dadar and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha constituency (the demise of her husband Mohan Delkar had prompted the election), thus taking the number of Shiv Sena MPs up to 19. 

Now the Thackeray faction is left with only 6 MPs-Vinayak Raut, Arvind Sawant, Rajan Vichare, Sanjay Jadhav, Omraje Nimbalkar and Kalaben Delkar. It has three MPs- Sanjay Raut, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai Rajya Sabha.

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Whereas the strength of the Shinde faction MPs has swelled up to 13-Shrikant Shinde, Rahul Shevale, Bhavna Gawli, Sanjay Mandalik, Dhairyashil Mane, Krupal Tumane, Srirang Barne, Hemant Godse, Hemant Patil, Sadashiv Lokhande, Pratap Jadhav, Rajendra Gavit and Gajanan Kirtikar. Lok Sabha Speaker OM Birla has already recognised Rahul Shewale as Shiv Sena leader in Lok Sabha and Bhavana Gawali as chief whip of the Shinde faction.

Kirtikar’s move is not a total surprise. He opposed the Shiv Sena joining hands with Congress and NCP from the beginning. He was also saying for a while now that Thackeray “should understand” what Shinde did. Similarly, when he was recently indisposed, Shinde called on him to inquire about his health. Kirtikar returned the gesture by visiting Shinde’s residence during the Ganesh festival this year.

Kirtikar joining the rebel Shinde camp has nothing to do with Hindutva or any other ideology, but his move is viewed as to seek a ministerial berth in the union cabinet since the Shine faction is expected to get at least two ministerial posts in the next cabinet expansion.

Kirtikar, who was close to the Shiv Sena patriarch late Balasaheb Thackeray, was an MLA from the Malad assembly constituency in North Mumbai from 1990 to 2009. He was Minister of State for Home in the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party Government (1995-1998) and Cabinet Minister, Information & Public Relations and Transport (1998-1999).

In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, he won by 1,83,000 votes defeating the late Gurudas Kamat (Congress) from the Mumbai North West constituency. In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, he won by a margin of 2,60,328 votes defeating Sanjay Nirupam (Congress) from the same constituency. During his tenure, he headed a couple of Parliamentary committees.

At the party level, he headed the Sthaniy Lokadhikar Samiti Mahasangha for a reasonably long time. He was also the President of the Mumbai Upnagar Kabaddi Association.

Also Read: Shiv Sena Leader Sanjay Raut Gets Bail in Patra Chawl Money Laundering Case

Author

  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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