The Shiv Sena Monday sacked senior leader Mohan Rawale, at five terms its longest serving Lok Sabha MP, for dissidence, a party spokesperson said.
The expulsion was ordered shortly after Rawale addressed a press conference in which he launched a no-holds-barred attack on the party leadership and alleged that the Shiv Sena was becoming "a party of touts".
The developments came just four days after a stern Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray made it clear that all those who did not like his leadership were "free to leave the party".
"I am not surprised by this action, which has come because I spoke out against Narvekar," Rawale told reporters.
Addressing media-persons, Rawale bitterly said that Shiv Sena "is no longer the party it was under the late Bal Thackeray".
"This is no longer the party envisioned by its founder, the late Bal Thackeray. It has changed and become a party of 'touts' and middle-men," Rawale said in a direct attack on the party leadership.
Once considered the Sena's 'unconquered tiger' in south-central Mumbai, Rawale targeted Uddhav Thackeray's personal assistant Milind Narvekar, accusing him of "destroying" the party.
"This man, Milind Narvekar has ruined the party of our 'Saheb' (Bal Thackeray) who had ordered his removal. But he was not removed and the present day leaders are supporting him (Narvekar)," said Rawale.
Rawale was elected as the party MP in 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 from Mumbai. He lost in 2009 elections and has been desperately trying to ensure a party ticket for the 2014 elections.
Expressing his frustration, Rawale said that though he was a former MP of the party, he had to wait for four years to meet Uddhav Thackeray, but was not granted an appointment.
"It is because of Narvekar that lakhs of dedicated Shiv Sainiks have veered away from the party. He has made this a party of touts," Rawale said.
"The Shiv Sena leadership has no courage to remove him, although lakhs of party activists are turning away from the party," he declared.
To a question whether he would apologise to the party leadership for his outburst, Rawale declared: "I shall not tender any apology."
Last Friday, another senior leader Manohar Joshi -- a former chief minister and ex-Lok Sabha Speaker -- accused of criticizing the party leadership, had tendered an unconditional written apology to Thackeray for his utterances.
Soon after the sacking, a top party office-bearer said that Rawale "is a fair-weather friend" and there is no place in Shiv Sena for such persons.
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