Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has engineered a crisis of sorts for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Maharashtra by rebelling, along with over two dozen party lawmakers, currently holed up in a hotel in Gujarat’s Surat town.
The rebellion has led to uncertainty over the future of the ruling alliance comprising Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and the Congress.
The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has reportedly started reaching out to the rebel lawmakers in Surat as Shinde throws a ‘Hindutva’ jibe at chief minister Uddhav Thackeray for apparently allying with the NCP and the Congress for power.
Here is all you need to know about Eknath Shinde, the man behind the political crisis in Maharashtra:
Eknath Shinde, 58 is one of the senior-most leaders of the Shiv Sena who is currently minister of urban affairs in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government of Maharashtra. His son Shrikant Shinde is a Lok Sabha member of parliament while his brother Prakash Shinde is a Councillor.
Shinde, who moved to a hotel in Gujarat's Surat with the group of rebel MLAs, is Sena's popular leader in Thane where he is credited for strengthening the party.Born in 1964, Shinde hails from the Maratha community and is said to have left education early to make a living. However, after becoming the minister in the BJP-Shiv Sena government in 2014, Shinde resumed his studies and graduated in education from Yashvantrao Chavan Open University, Maharashtra.
आम्ही बाळासाहेबांचे कट्टर शिवसैनिक आहोत... बाळासाहेबांनी आम्हाला हिंदुत्वाची शिकवण दिली आहे.. बाळासाहेबांचे विचार आणि धर्मवीर आनंद दिघे साहेबांची शिकवण यांच्याबाबत आम्ही सत्तेसाठी कधीही प्रतारणा केली नाही आणि करणार नाही
— Eknath Shinde - एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) June 21, 2022
Shinde came under the influence of Shiv Sena supremo, late Bal Thackeray, and Shiv Sena's Thane district chief Anand Dighe while doing odd jobs and eventually joined Shiv Sena in the 1980s.
Shinde started his political career in 1997 when he was elected to Thane Municipal Corporation as corporator for the first time. In 2001, he became leader of the house in Thane Municipal Corporation and was elected to Thane Municipal Corporation for the second time in 2002.
He won the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election for the first time in 2004 from the Kopri-Pachpakhadi constituency of Thane and has been an MLA since then, winning for four consecutive terms. In 2005, he has appointed the Thane district head of Shiv Sena, the first MLA to have been appointed at such a coveted post in the party
Shinde was appointed as the leader of the legislative party of Shiv Sena after his 2014 win and then the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly before Uddhav Thackeray became the chief minister of the MVA government in November 2019. Shinde was, however, removed as the leader of the legislative party of Shiv Sena after his rebellion on June 21.Shinde was made cabinet minister for Urban Development and Public Works (Public Undertakings) in the MVA government in 2019 and he is currently the minister of urban affairs. There have been reports that Shinde was upset with the Sena leadership for being sidelined.