Interview I BJP must have offered Shinde ‘something’: Top Sena leader

Senior Shiv Sena leader Chandrakant Khaire, who was at Uddhav Thackeray's official residence as the family moved out of the CM's official residence; shares with his thoughts with The Federal

Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire
Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire | Photo - Twitter/Chandrakant Khaire

As the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance government of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress in Maharashtra hangs on the tenterhooks on the back of rebellion by over 40 MLAs led by Sena’s senior leader Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has all but prepared to leave office.

Senior Shiv Sena leader and four-time MP from Aurangabad Chandrakant Khaire — who was one of two senior party functionaries present at the CM’s official residence on Wednesday night as the family packed its belongings and moved back to its home ‘Matoshree’ in Kalanagar — told The Federal that allegations against the party having abandoned its Hindutva principles, which is said to be the main reason behind Eknath Shinde’s rebellion, are completely baseless. The alliance was forged for the only purpose of development, he said.

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Do the latest developments in Maharashtra indicate that this is the end of the Thackeray government? Are we seeing the Shiv Sena in its last stages, and along with that, the last stages of the Thackerays as well?

The Shiv Sena’s so-called “last stage” will never come. This is Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena. It can never be extinguished. His son is the Shiv Sena party chief and he runs the government. There is definitely someone’s hand behind this (political crisis). If you remember, the BJP had betrayed us (in 2019) and that is why we had to go ahead with the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, with the NCP and Congress.

But this coalition with NCP and Congress is only for the purpose of development. Apart from that, we have never left Hindutva so far and will never abandon it in the future either. People are unnecessarily accusing us of doing it.

It has been pointed out that the Sena’s current Hindutva stance is not the same as Balasaheb’s ideology…

These are all things that are said just for the sake of it. If these people are talking about Hindutva, it is a game of money, that’s all. If you believe in Balasaheb and his principles like we do, then the question of abandoning Hindutva principles cannot arise at all. How can we say we are followers of Balasaheb if we abandon Hindutva?

Also read: Read about Eknath Shinde, the ‘rebel’ Sena strongman

So many Sena MLAs left Mumbai overnight and went to Surat and have now moved to Guwahati. How did Uddhav or no one in his camp know that all of this was happening right under their nose? How were they blindsided?

When someone is upset with you (us), there is not much that can be done.

But in this case, was Uddhav even aware that his MLAs were disgruntled with him in the first place?

There are several issues in running a government.

As the situation stands currently in Maharashtra, what do you think will happen going ahead?

Nothing will happen. There will be a bit of delay…and I would say that after some time, the situation will cool down.

He (Uddhav Thacekeray) said yesterday that he is ready to give his resignation, but why didn’t the disgruntled MLAs come to talk to him before going to Surat? He has said that if they had done so, he would have directly told them that he was ready to resign from the top post.

Also read: From Raj to Rane to Shinde: Shiv Sena’s long tryst with rebellion

Are you comfortable with Eknath Shinde going on to become the next Chief Minister since he too is from the Sena? Do you think it will be right going ahead for him to become chief minister?

He had once said that he did not want to become Chief Minister but has now gone with the BJP. This means that the BJP must have definitely given him some offer. The BJP’s style of politics (is such that) they have been trying to take Maharashtra from Shiv Sena.

But would you be okay with him becoming the next CM?

Whoever has left Balasaheb, whoever has left Balsaheb’s Shiv Sena, they cannot be successful going ahead. He (Balasaheb) made all of us what we are today. He never looked at posts such as MLA or MP or CM. He had never asked for them. He was given it. Even Uddhavji had never asked (to be chief minister) but respected Pawar sir and others made him. As a Shiv Sainik, I would say that despite so many hurdles, it is Uddhav who has helmed and ran the government for the last 2.5 years.

Do you think Eknath Shinde will return to the party since Uddhav has now said that he will resign if rebel MLAs come and talk to him in Mumbai?

If Eknath Shinde comes back to sahib, then he (Uddhav) will take him back. Whether he makes him CM or not comes at a later stage. But after he returns, at least a solution will come about.

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