Thane After a mass exodus of party functionaries, the latest recruit from the old guard of Shiv Sena into the Shinde faction is late Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s personal assistant and helper – Champa Singh Thapa.
Though this may not have a wider political impact, it is a personal setback for the Thackerays, as Thapa was seen as the shadow of the late leader, and was with the family for over 27 years. He joined forces with chief minister Eknath Shinde in a Navratri procession in Thane on Monday.
Along with Thapa, another trusted aide of Bal Thackeray, Moreshwar Raje, also joined Shinde on Monday. Raje was Thackeray’s personal secretary and used to perform routine tasks like taking calls, granting appointments, reading out the newspapers and keeping newspaper cuttings at Matoshree for 35 years. He was however side-lined after he reportedly attended a rally of Raj Thackeray’s newly-formed Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
On Monday, the first day of Navratri celebrations, Shinde visited a pandal at Tembhi Naka, Thane, and also participated in the procession – which started from Kalwa and culminated at Tembhi Naka — to welcome the Goddess.
Thapa, who hails from Nepal, migrated to Mumbai in the mid-1980s. He started out with small jobs for sustenance and joined Thackeray within two to three months of arrival. He attended to his food, medicines and other needs. He was also a support for Thackeray after the death of his wife, Meena Thackeray. Thapa was always seen with the late leader, and had recently claimed that he was Matoshree’s loyalist even after Thackeray’s death.
He launched a branch of the Shiv Sena in Nepal and a parallel union for them in Mumbai. After Bal Thackeray’s demise in 2012, Thapa was among those who performed his last rites at Shivaji Park.
So why did he make the switch?
“Every person has a different thought process. I felt like going with Shinde and thus I joined him. There is nothing else in my mind. I used to visit Matoshree regularly and meet Uddhav Thackeray,” he said in response to media’s queries at the rally.