Maharashtra’s urban development minister and Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, along with 11 party MLAs said to be loyal to him, has been unreachable since Monday evening amid the political fallout of the ruling Sena-NCP-Congress’s losses in the MLC elections.
Shinde and the other MLAs are said to be holed up in a five-star hotel in Surat, Gujarat.
Sources said they took a chartered flight to the city at 7pm on Monday.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday won all five seats it contested in the state Legislative Council elections for 10 seats, while Congress candidate and Dalit leader Chandrakant Handore lost, in another setback for the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi after the Rajya Sabha polls earlier this month.
WHO IS SHINDE?
Shinde was elected consecutively for four terms in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly — 2004, 2009, 2014, and 2019.
Shinde was picked as the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly in 2014 following the Shiv Sena’s split with the BJP.
He was named a cabinet minister for Urban Development and Public Works (Public Undertakings) when the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi administration was formed.
#ShivSena | Fresh Setback for MVA Govt.
High drama in Surat where Eknath Shinde is also present.
Mystery vehicle found at Surat Hotel.
— News18 (@CNNnews18) June 21, 2022
As CM Uddhav Thackeray went for surgery in 2021, there were reports that Shinde would take interim charge of the top post. Shinde had denied it.
Last year, in an attack on Thackeray, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis had said, “This is a government formed through dishonesty and I feel that respected Uddhavji should now accept that he had ambitions of becoming a chief minister which he fulfilled. In politics, having ambitions is not wrong. But if you wanted to keep the word, you could have made senior Sena leaders Diwakar Raote, Subhash Desai or Eknath Shinde a CM,” Fadnavis had said.
He had recently visited Ayodhya with minister and Thackeray’s son Aaditya.
हिंदू शक्ती आणि भक्तीचे प्रतीक असलेल्या #अयोध्या नगरीतील शिवसेना नेते, युवासेनाप्रमुख तथा राज्याचे पर्यावरण, पर्यटन आणि राजशिष्टाचार मंत्री श्री.@AUThackeray यांचा ऐतिहासिक दौरा शरयू नदीच्या तीरावरील महाआरतीद्वारे संपन्न झाला. #जय_श्रीराम pic.twitter.com/SEyuCNgU7u
— Eknath Shinde – एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) June 16, 2022
Shinde wields influence in some of the satellite cities of Mumbai, namely Thane and Kalyan.
According to reports, he began his early career as a labourer and had to quit studies to provide for his family.
While working odd jobs, he was influenced by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and Sena’s Thane District Chief Anand Dighe and joined the party in the 1980s.
His son, Shrikant Shinde, is a Member of Parliament from Kalyan.
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