Discontent brews in Sena after Gorhe says post of party city chief scrapped

It is a known fact that the BJP is divided into the Gopinath Munde and the Nitin Gadkari factions, and now the city unit of the Shiv Sena has been thrown into turmoil over the issue of dominance of one group over another. Gorhe made her statement in a press conference held at the PMC on Monday, saying the decision to scrap the post of party city unit chief had been taken by party executive president Uddhav Thackeray. 

Can’t see eye to eye: Former Shiv Sena city unit chief Nana Wadekar and party spokesperson Neelam Gorhe (below). File pics

No chief since Feb
The post has been lying vacant since February, when Wadekar resigned as city unit chief alleging high-handedness by Gorhe in local party affairs.  Now, Wadekar says the party is becoming more and more like the BJP, where a particular group of party workers that rides roughshod over the rest of the workers.  “Gorhe has been interfering in city matters since the past few months. Whether it was the issue of ticket distribution or seat-sharing with the BJP during the recently held civic polls, she always took arbitrary decisions in the party,” Wadekar said. “We will verify whether such a decision to scrap the post of city president was actually taken by Uddhav Saheb or not.” 

Gorhe, who is also the party samparka pramukh for the district, is expected to be the point-person for communication between the Shiv Sena chief and the party workers.  Wadekar has also held Gorhe responsible for the poor performance of the Shiv Sena in the civic body election earlier this year, when the party managed to win only 16 seats.  Wadekar claimed that Gorhe was trying to establish her supremacy in the party, sidelining senior leaders who had contributed to the formation of the party with Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. 

Pointing out the importance of the post of city president, Wadekar said it was crucial for keeping the unity in the party. “I will not be surprised if one fine morning she (Gorhe) stands up and says that the post of Shiv Sena chief should also be scrapped,” Wadekar said.  Sunil Zagade, a local leader who had been associated with the Shiv Sena for 40 years but resigned as a corporator last year over differences with Gorhe, said that he had helped Gorhe when she had newly joined the party after breaking her association with Sharad Pawar, then a Congress leader and now the NCP chief. 

“The way she arbitrarily distributed tickets and gave seats which were strongholds of the Sena to the BJP in the recently held civic polls disappointed all of us who have been associated with the Sena for years,” Zagade said. He also claimed that although Gorhe was a shrewd politician, she was not a good coordinator and lacked the ability to take all party workers along with her. A Gorhe supporter and group leader of the Shiv Sena in the PMC, Ashok Harnawal, backed her stand. “It’s the decision of Uddhav Saheb and it’s a Shiv Sainiks duty to follow his directions,” Harnawal said. 

Gorhe sticks to guns
Commenting on the issue, Gorhe said those party workers who were disappointed with the decision to scrap the post of party city unit chief could take their grievances to the party executive president. She said party workers were free to confirm with Uddhav Thackeray whether the decision was taken by him or her.  “It was entirely Uddhav Thackeray’s decision and I was just the messenger,” she said. “Only those party workers will have a problem with this decision who have petty political interests.” She said the decision meant the party leadership in the city would be in hands of all the Shiv Sena MPs, MLAs and party officials instead of just one person. 

On how city unit of the party could be effectively managed by all party officials when there were clashes of interest among them, Gorhe said the new leadership would emerge from these leaders.  She also said that the party would think of giving the reins of the city unit in the hands of more than one person after an assessing all party officials. 

Woman power
Commenting on the increasing importance of Gorhe in the Shiv Sena, political expert Prakash Pawar said Gorhe was reaping the befits of being the only prominent woman leader in the party.  “The Sena does not have any important female face except Gorhe, so the senior Sena leaders are giving importance to her,” Pawar said. “In her past, she was once associated with a completely different ideology and it is there that she developed her nature of creating a centre of power. That is the reason she sidelines party workers who don’t follow her policy.” 

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