Eknath Shinde's Journey To CM: The Auto Driver Who Drove Thackeray Sena Out Of Power

Eknath Shinde's relationship with Dighe helped him gain momentum in his political career. Shinde followed the style of Anand Dighe, who was a grassroots leader with a very large fan base in Maharashtra.

By Talibuddin Khan
Updated: Thu, 30 Jun 2022 07:43 PM IST
Minute Read
Eknath Shinde's Journey To CM: The Auto Driver Who Drove Thackeray Sena Out Of Power
Eknath Shinde (ANI Photo)

Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, whose rebellion led to the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in the state, took oath as the chief minister of the state on Thursday. The development came after Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night resigned from the top post following the mutiny led by Shinde almost 10 days ago. Shinde's rebellion completely toppled the MVA government in the state, leaving the Shiv Sena with a mere 15 MLAs in the state Assembly. Shinde claims that he has the support of over 50 MLAs, including 40 from Shiv Sena and 10 independents.

Who is Eknath Shinde?

Born on February 9, 1964, Eknath Shinde started his political innings as a Shiv Sena worker in the 1980s under the leadership of party Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and party's Thane president Anand Dighe. Shinde rose in the party circles in a short period with his organisational skills and his on-ground presence. Shinde is known for raising public issues aggressively and helping the people across the state.

Shinde left his education before he could complete graduation. Originally hailing from Satara district in western Maharashtra, Thane district, a Sena stronghold, Shinde spent most of his childhood doing odd jobs, at places such as a beer brewery and fishery, apart from his stint as an auto-rickshaw driver to make ends meet.

Shinde soon became a close confidant of Anand Dighe, who was considered number 2 in the party after Balasaheb Thackeray. His relationship with Dighe helped him gain momentum in his political career. Shinde followed the style of Anand Dighe, who was a grassroots leader with a very large fan base in Maharashtra.

Shinde, in 1997, was elected to Thane Municipal Corporation as a corporator for the first time. Grabbing the opportunity and taking advantage of Dighe's support, Shinde gave a separate identity to his name and became a popular name in the Thane region. In 2000, Shinde suffered a major personal loss when two of his sons died after drowning in a lake in their native village. Shinde went into depression with this loss but his mentor, Anand Dighe, helped him overcome the loss and entrusted him with greater responsibility.

In 2001, Shinde was elected to the post of the leader of the house in Thane Municipal Corporation. However, Shinde suffered another loss when Anand Dighe died in 2001. Soon after, Shinde became the successor to Dighe's legacy and became the number 1 in Shiv Sena in the Thane region. In 2002, Shinde was elected to the Thane Municipal Corporation for the second time.

Shinde's rise in mainstream politics was marked after he was elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 2004 winning the Kopri-Pachpakhadi seat. Since then, Shinde never looked back and represented the seat in the state Assembly for four consecutive terms. In 2005, Shinde was appointed as the Thane district head of Shiv Sena. This is the first time when an MLA was appointed to such a coveted post in the party.

Shinde won the Kopri-Pachpakhadi seat in 2009 also and his popularity increased exponentially across Maharashtra. Shinde's stature can be gauged from the fact that he is seen as the second most prominent leader in the party. In 2014, after he won the Assembly elections for the third time, Shinde was appointed the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for a brief period when Sena had not finalised its pact with the then-ally BJP for joining the Devendra Fadnavis cabinet.

After the pact between BJP and Shiv Sena, Shinde was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of PWD (PU) in the Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government. He was appointed as Thane District's Guardian minister from 2014 to 2019. His association with Fadnavis made headlines and became a matter of discussion in the Shiv Sena after BJP, except for the Thane Municipal Corporation, contested elections to all civic bodies against the Shiv Sena in 2016.

When the Shiv Sena snapped ties with the BJP and formed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government with the NCP and the Congress in late 2019, he became a cabinet minister and was given the charge of Urban Development and Public Works. In 2020, Uddhav Thackeray made him the Guardian minister of Thane again.

Role in Shiv Sena's fall:

The political turmoil in Maharashtra began on June 21 when Shinde and several other MLAs of Shiv Sena moved to Surat in BJP-governed Gujarat, throwing the MVA coalition into a crisis. Shinde's rebel camp grew with time and as many as 50 MLAs joined him in Assam's Guwahati, where the rebel flew after staying in Surat for two days. As a result of Shinde's revolt, Uddhav Thackeray resigned from the post of Chief Minister of Maharashtra and said he would also resign from the Maharashtra Legislative Council.

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