Another Jolt to Team Uddhav As Gajanan Kirtikar Joins Shinde Camp, 13th Sena MP to Ditch Thackeray

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In a yet another blow to Uddhav Thackeray’s camp, Shiv Sena MP Gajanan Kirtikar joined Eknath Shinde-led party faction Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena. Following the split in Shiv Sena in June this year, as many as 13 out of 18 Shiv Sena MPs including Kirtikar have extended their support to Shinde so far.

Shinde, who led the rebellion to unseat Thackeray with the BJP’s backing, enjoys the support of at least 40 of the party’s 56 MLAs and several state chiefs.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut claimed on Friday that at least some of the rebel MLAs will return to the party fold. “Some of them will certainly come back. I am confident that some will return,” Raut was quoted as saying by PTI.

“What has Shiv Sena not done for these people? The party has done more for them than for me,” said Raut who recently was released on bail in a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

In the recently Andheri East bypoll, Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction’s fielded Rutuja Latke emerged victorious. Shinde camp, BJP, NCP and Congress had not field their candidates in the contest.

Earlier, Nihar Thackeray, the grandson of Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray, also extended support to the Eknath Shinde faction.

The battle between the two groups have intensified ahead of the BMC elections. Both groups held separate Dussehra rallies last month. The Thackeray faction held its rally at the historic Shivaji Park in Dadar in central Mumbai, a venue associated with the Shiv Sena since its inception in 1966 while the Shinde camp held the event at the MMRDA ground at Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.

Shinde and 39 other Sena legislators had rebelled against the party leadership in June, following which the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government collapsed. On June 30, Shinde was sworn in as the CM along with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.

(With PTI inputs)

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