The Opposition Shiv Sena in Maharashtra got a major jolt today as party MP Anand Paranjape approached the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its chief Sharad Pawar seeking help to develop his constituency.
He dropped hints of joining the NCP led by Pawar, also union agriculture minister. Paranjape, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kalyan constituency in the 2009 elections, criticised the Shiv Sena for “suppressing” loyalists and committed party workers, and “playing politics instead of pursuing development works”.
For now, Paranjape has not joined the NCP or resigned from the Shiv Sena, which has asked Paranjape to resign as MP. (He has been given police protection to avoid any untoward incident.) All he would do is to express intention to seek the help of Pawar and NCP legislator Jitendra Awad to pursue development works in his parliamentary constituency.
Paward said he would not talk about politics while pursuing development works. “I’ve assured Paranjape all the help,” he added.
Maharashtra is scheduled to hold elections on February 16 for municipal corporations and February 7 for the 27 zilla parishads and 309 gram panchayats (village councils).
Paranjape’s dramatic entry into the NCP’s state headquarters surprised the Shiv Sena and the NCP alike. He hit out at the Sena leadership, especially those from Thane district, for their consistent efforts to suppress loyalists and committed Sena workers. “At the outset, I want to make it clear that today’s Shiv Sena is not what party chief Bal Thackeray led and grew across the state under his leadership. Those days, the Sena has implemented a principle of 80 per cent social work and 20 per cent politics,” he said. “At present, the party leaders are not keen on pursuing development works. Therefore, I took the decision to seek the help of Pawar and Awhad.”
Paranjape’s move comes at a time when the Shiv Sena is luring the NCP’s disgruntled legislators and corporators from Thane.
Only yesterday, BJP’s deputy leader in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde’s brother Pandit Anna Munde joined the NCP. It happened at a rally in the presence of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar -- at Parli in Beed district. Tomorrow, NCP would further gain, as Shivaji Mane, a former Shiv Sena MP from Hingoli in Marathwada, is joining that party. Then, on Sunday, Congress functionary Pushpasen Sawant from Sindhudurg district, which is the home district of firebrand Congress functionary Narayan Rane, is joining the NCP.
The NCP and the Congress are in an alliance against the Shiv Sena-BJP combine that rules in Thane civic body. Pawar justified the NCP’s decision to strike an alliance with the Congress to take on the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in Mumbai. “Mumbaikars need a change for expediting city’s development. We are sure of victory,” he noted.