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CPI to back Thackeray group in crucial Assembly bypoll

Deepak Kesarkar slams the development, says taking support of the Left is akin to ‘murder of the party's ideology’
Uddhav Thackeray showing his newly assigned party symbol.
Uddhav Thackeray showing his newly assigned party symbol.
File Picture

PTI   |   Mumbai   |   Published 13.10.22, 11:31 PM

As the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena gears up for its most crucial electoral battle after the June revolt - the Andheri (East) Assembly bypoll on November 3 - it has got the backing of the Communist Party of India (CPI), whose candidate the saffron outfit defeated in 1970 that triggered the decline of Left forces in Mumbai.

On Wednesday, a delegation of CPI leaders met former chief minister Thackeray at his residence here and extended the Left party's support to his faction's candidate in the Maharashtra Assembly bypoll in Andheri (East), a suburb of Mumbai.


CPI's Mumbai secretary Milind Ranade said his party has pledged support to Thackeray for the bypoll necessitated by the death of sitting Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke.

"The CPI will stand with the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) in its fight against the BJP," Ranade said.

The former CM's faction has been given the name Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) by the Election Commission (EC) as an interim arrangement. Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who led a revolt against Thackeray's leadership, heads the rebel faction of the party and his group is known as Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena.

Thackeray's candidate is being backed by the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) -- constituents of the MVA -- and some factions of the Republican Party of India (RPI).

Taking a dig at the Thackeray-led faction, Deepak Kesarkar, a state minister and spokesperson for the Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena, on Thursday said taking support of the CPI was akin to "murder of the party's ideology".

The CPI and the Shiv Sena, which still swears by Hindutva, had been arch political foes and their fierce rivalry often spilled on to the streets of Mumbai, leading to violent clashes in the past.

In his book 'Shiv Sena Kal, Aaj ani Udya', senior Sena leader and former chief minister Manohar Joshi, rites that for his party, the Communists were always their "number one enemy".

"In the interest of the city, the country, it was necessary to save them from the red trap," Joshi said.

In the 1970 Parel Assembly bypoll in Mumbai, necessitated after the death of Communist leader Krishna Desai, the Shiv Sena defeated the CPI in what was a crucial victory for the then-fledgling party founded by Bal Thackeray in 1966.

In that bypoll, Shiv Sena's Wamanrao Mahadik defeated Sarojini Desai, the widow of Krishna Desai who wielded considerable influence among mill workers in the metropolis. The Communist leader was killed in the Tavripada area of Lalbaug.

According to journalist Vaibhav Purandare, the author of 'Bal Thackeray and the Rise of the Shiv Sena', 19 persons, suspected to be Shiv Sainiks, were arrested for Desai's murder. Three of them were acquitted, while the rest convicted.

Prakash Akolkar, veteran journalist and Shiv Sena biographer, in his book 'Ha Shiv Sena Navacha Itihas Aahe', writes that many newspapers had come down heavily on the Shiv Sena after Desai's murder.

Like now, when the Shiv Sena is being backed by a number of parties, Purandare says, a 13-party combination had supported Sarojini Desai in the 1970 bypoll.

After its victory in the bypoll 52 years ago, the Shiv Sena established itself as a dominant political force in the Lalbaug-Parel belt in the heart of Mumbai.

For the Shiv Sena, a victory in the 1970 bypoll was crucial for its expansion and now in 2022, the outcome of the November 3 electoral battle will be important for the 56-year-old outfit's survival and its future.

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