Mumbai, March 17: The Shiv Sena got a rude Holi jolt Monday when its city spokesperson Rahul Narvekar joined the Nationalist Congress Party and was given a Lok Sabha ticket from Maval constituency.
NCP executive president Jitendra Awhad, while welcoming him to the party fold, also announced Narvekar as the nominee for the Maval seat.
Earlier, Narvekar’s entry to NCP was greeted with angry slogan shouting and ruckus created by protesting Shiv Sainiks near the party headquarters.
Barely five days ago, Narvekar – a close aide of Shiv Sena youth leader Aditya Thackeray – had suddenly withdrawn his candidature for the March 20 Maharashtra legislative council elections, amid speculation that he had acted on his own.
Three days ago, he called on NCP chief Sharad Pawar, indicating that he would join the string of important leaders to quit Shiv Sena before the 2014 elections.
“I was feeling suffocated and uncomfortable in the Shiv Sena. I have been compelled to leave due to the internal politics in the party,” he said.
However, he clarified that he had withdrawn his candidature from the legislative council elections after directions from Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
“Some Shiv Sena leaders were working to ensure my defeat, so I felt that it would be better to withdraw,” he added.
He said that he had worked for Shiv Sena for 16 years in various capacities and it was a tough decision to quit the party.
Narvekar is married to Sarojini, daughter of NCP heavyweight and former minister Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, of the erstwhile royal family of Phaltan.
With four of its total 11 sitting MPs among the leaders walking over to other parties, and the latest being Narvekar, pre-elections defections continue to dog the Shiv Sena.
The four MPs were: Anand Paranjpe from Thane, Ganesh Dudhgaonkar from Parbhani and Gajanand Babar from Maval – all who joined the NCP, and Bhausaheb Wakchaure from Shirdi, who joined the Congress.
All the defectors have been won over with tickets by their respective new parties for the Lok Sabha elections.
More than anything, the defections have dealt a psychological blow to the Shiv Sena, already under pressures from its own ally of nearly a quarter century, Bharatiya Janata Party, and its bete-noire, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, headed by Uddhav’s estranged cousin, Raj Thackeray.