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Eknath Shinde: The Auto Driver Who Punctured Uddhav's Three-Wheeler Govt to Become Maharashtra CM

By: Rohini Swamy

News18.com

Last Updated: June 30, 2022, 18:03 IST

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari offers sweets to Eknath Shinde as he, along with BJP leaders and other supporting MLAs, stakes claim to form the government in the state, on June 30, 2022. (PTI)

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari offers sweets to Eknath Shinde as he, along with BJP leaders and other supporting MLAs, stakes claim to form the government in the state, on June 30, 2022. (PTI)

From leading a rebellion after feeling side-lined by the Thackerays to engineering a split in the party and forcing Uddhav Thackeray to step down, Eknath Shinde is the man who rose from humble beginnings to become Maharashtra CM

Eknath Sambhaji Shinde, the man who triggered Maharashtra’s biggest political earthquake is now the Chief Minister of the state. From leading a rebellion after feeling side-lined by the Thackerays to engineering a split in the party and forcing Uddhav Thackeray to step down, Shinde is the man who rose from humble beginnings of being an auto-rickshaw driver. Through sheer determination, sharp mind and strategic planning he reached the pinnacle of the state’s political system.

Once part of Uddhav Thackeray’s inner circle, his ties with former chief minister and senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis have been very strong. This helped in furthering the agenda of creating, what he called, the “true Shiv Sena”.

Born on February 9, 1964, Shinde, a Maratha, moved from his hometown Satara to Thane to complete his education. He studied at Mangala High School and Junior College in Thane, but had to leave his education midway as his family needed economic support. This is the time he found work as an auto-rickshaw driver in the area.

It was during this time he is said to have come in contact with the firebrand leader Anand Dighe who persuaded and inspired him to become a full-time Shiv Sainik. He is also said to have worked in a beer brewery and as a lorry driver to make ends meet before he got his first political break.

Having started his political career under the guidance of his mentor and legendary Shiv Sena strongman Dighe, Shinde was greatly influenced by Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and participated in several agitations across the state. He spent 40 days in prison after being arrested during the protests at the Maharashtra-Karnataka border over the status of Belagavi.

“It is quite interesting to note that a day after Uddhav Thackeray announced renaming Aurangabad to Sambhajinagar, Eknath ‘Sambhaji’ Shinde becomes the CM of Maharashtra. It is almost as if it was a premonition,” said a senior BJP leader to News18.

Formerly a minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Shinde is currently MLA from the Kopri-Pachpakhadi Assembly constituency in Thane district adjoining Mumbai. Extremely popular among his supporters, he has been elected four times consecutively to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly since 2004.

Shinde’s meteoric rise in the Shiv Sena was based on pure dedication and sheer hard work, say his peers. Seeing his dedication to the Shiv Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray, the party gave him his first political opportunity in 1997 by giving him a ticket to contest in the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC). His hard work proved fruitful and he won with a huge margin.

Later in 2001, he was elected as the Leader of the House in the Thane Municipal Corporation and in 2004 contested Assembly polls from the Thane Assembly constituency and won with a handsome majority.

“Even though he was a corporator in Thane, he would take up issues related to the entire district and soon become a darling of the people in the area,” said a local Thane leader who did not wish to be named.

In 2005, he was given the much coveted post, one that his mentor held for several years, of Shiv Sena Thane District head. He continued his winning spree between 2009 and 2019 in the state Assembly elections.

Politics also runs in the blood and Shinde’s son, Dr Shrikant Shinde, an orthopaedic doctor, is a two-term MP from Kalyan.

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first published:June 30, 2022, 18:03 IST
last updated:June 30, 2022, 18:03 IST