One question that has been bugging everyone since the last week of June till now is which Shiv Sena is real?
To simplify it further the question is who holds more power, Eknath Shinde or Uddhav Thackeray? Both the groups have been asked by the election commission to submit their responses, there are several petitions in the Supreme Court, and many more issues that are awaiting an answer.
While courts will take time, the election commission too won’t give any immediate answer, obviously, both authorities have to follow the procedure which is time consuming and foolproof.
However, the question of which Sena is real has to be answered, for the benefit of the common man. So how does a journalist answer this question? How can a journalist tell the readers whether Shinde or Uddhav Thackeray has the support of the common Shiv Sainiks with him?
If you only focus on the elected representatives and their support it is quite evident that it is the Shinde camp that has the support.
Eknath Shinde today holds the support of no less than 40 MLAs of the 55 off MLAs in the state legislature of Maharashtra. He also has a handful of MLCs supporting him now.
In the lower house of the Parliament which is the Lok Sabha, the Shinde camp has got an open support of 12 MPs of the 19 MPs. Taking all this into consideration, the numbers are undoubted with Eknath Shinde and he would be perceived as the real Shiv Sena.
But it isn’t as simple. There are several other things that has to be factored in before forming conclusions. Shiv Sena has a complex network of leadership hierarchy. It has a party president, then leaders, deputy leaders, secretary, general secretary, then assembly level heads which are called Vibhag Pramukhs and then at the last stage the most powerful Shakha Pramukhs.
One needs to understand that till a few years ago the Shiv Sena Shakhas were the most powerful centres in the area. Any dispute, be it property related or any other, most of the time the warring parties would settle them at the Shakha of Shiv Sena. This must give you a feel of how important the Shakha and Shakha Pramukhs are, and mere support of MLAs and MPs won’t suffice for any camp to say that they are the real Shiv Sena.
Ask any senior leader from the Shiv Sena currently with the Uddhav camp, what is keeping them busy, they will tell you, collecting stamp papers. For those unaware Uddhav Thackeray has asked his supporters to pledge their support to him on stamp paper. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav is collecting the stamp papers, asking supporters to write down their support to him and submit the papers in Sena Bhawan. Leaders supporting Uddhav spend most of their time doing this exercise.
While Uddhav is busy collecting stamp papers, the Shinde camp is busy getting people. Already top leaders like Ramdas Kadam and Anandrao Adsul, have abandoned Uddhav to join Shiv Sena led by Shinde.
But now the Shinde camp has already started poaching leaders working on the ground level. Especially those who were close to Aaditya Thackeray, the political scion of Shiv Sena and the president of Yuva Sena.
While Kiran Maali shifted almost two weeks ago, Raj Kulkarni who was amongst the first batches and the core committee of Yuva Sena also shifted sides. Many Vibhag Pramukhs and Shakha Pramukhs are now in touch with leaders of the Shinde camp.
Aaditya Thackeray is touring certain parts of Maharashtra, but leaders from his side claim it is too little and very late, they say the Shinde camp is moving at a speed that is as good as a bullet train, which Uddhav wouldn’t be able to manage.
On Wednesday it was Uddhav Thackeray’s birthday, this day the Shiv Sena leaders celebrate with a lot of fervour, and celebrations, but on July 27, the city didn’t see much of a celebration. This, political experts say was an indication too of the disappearing support for Uddhav even in the city of Mumbai where the party has a maximum presence.
In Thane district Eknath Shinde has almost all the office bearers barring a handful with him, the same is in many districts of the state from where the leaders have shifted sides and joined Shinde. Many are happy that at least the rebellion made Uddhav Thackeray step out of Matoshree and start visiting the Sena Bhawan. But again experts say this is too little, too late.
The Shinde camp right now appears strong, Shinde is already meeting top leaders in Shiv Sena. There was a buzz that he has plans to meet Manohar Joshi, and Leeladhar Adake who belong to the founding team of Shiv Sena. Uddhav is still sitting in Sena Bhawan and expecting leaders to meet him.
“Uddhav Thackeray has plans to step out in the state in the coming month, but by then Shinde will have snatched all of them from his feet,” said a Sena leader who is yet undecided.
On the ground, the floor is shifting towards Shinde, while Uddhav is losing the support gradually and that’s the statement.