BJP MLA Held for Firing at Shinde Faction Leaders, Accuses CM of Harbouring Criminals
NEW DELHI, Feb 3: A BJP member of the Maharashtra state Assembly along with two of his associates were arrested on Saturday for opening fire and injuring two persons in a police station in Thane, an incident that brings out in the open the cold war between the two alliance partners, the BJP and the Shiv Sena of the chief minister Eknath Shinde faction.
The BJP legislator Ganpat Gaikwad, who represented Kalyan East constituency, also said he had no regrets for opening fire at the two supporters of the Shinde faction as his son was being beaten up by them in front of the police and maintained that Mr Eknath Shinde was “trying to create a kingdom of criminals in Maharashtra.”
“Shinde saheb betrayed Uddhav (Thackeray) saheb, he will also betray BJP. He owes me crores of rupees. Shinde should resign if Maharashtra is to be well-managed. This is my humble request to Devendra Fadnavis (Deputy Chief Minister) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” reports quoted Ganpat Gaikwad as saying.
The Kalyan East MLA was referring to the revolt by Mr Shinde that brought down the Thackeray government in 2022. He also accused the Chief Minister’s son and MP Shrikant Shinde of putting up boards to grab credit for his works. “If Eknath Shinde is the Chief Minister, only criminals will be born in Maharashtra. He has made a good person like me a criminal today,” he said.
Gaikwad claimed that he fired at an ally Shiv Sena leader in “self-defence” but the CCTV footage available on the incident betrayed his claim as he was seen firing at the two persons in cold blood.
Mahesh Gaikwad, who belongs to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s faction, and another supporter were injured in the firing after an argument over a land dispute. The incident occurred last night in Ulhasnagar, which comes under Kalyan parliamentary segment.
“Yes, I shot (him) myself. I have no regrets. If my son is being beaten in front of the police inside the police station, what will I do,” he told a news channel.
The MLA said his son had gone to lodge a complaint at the police station, but the Sena leader’s men started manhandling him, which prompted him to shoot at them. He claimed he fired five rounds in the police station.
The land dispute at the centre of the incident pertains to a plot that the MLA had bought 10 years ago. He claimed there were some legal issues but he won the case in the court, after which Mahesh Gaikwad occupied it by force.
The police said Ganpat Gaikwad and two others have been arrested under attempt to murder charges. The injured Sena leader remains critical and on ventilator.
The incident has provided the Uddhav Thackeray faction with fresh ammunition to target the Maharashtra government over law and order. “A BJP MLA opened fire inside the police station and the person who was shot is close to the Chief Minister and a former corporator. Both their parties are in power, so should we understand that these people have no fear of the law? Both engines of the state government have failed,” said Uddhav faction spokesperson Anand Dubey.
The Dramatic CCTV footage from the police station not only showed Ganpat Gaikwad firing at Mahesh Gaikwad and then attacking him and his associates with the butt of his gun, but also appears to significantly weaken his argument that the act was done in self-defence.
Ganpat Gaikwad has been locked in a land dispute with Mahesh Gaikwad, the Kalyan chief of the Shiv Sena (Shinde faction). According to the police, Ganpat Gaikwad’s son had gone to a police station in neighbouring Ulhasnagar on Friday to file a complaint in connection with the dispute when Mahesh Gaikwad arrived with his men. The BJP MLA also reached the police station a little later.
A 2-minute video shows the BJP MLA sitting in the chamber of the senior police Inspector of Hill Line police station with four people initially, including Mahesh Gaikwad, and things appear to be calm – only to be revealed to be the lull before the storm. Ganpat Gaikwad can be seen talking to the four men when another man enters the room. He and another man leave the room a little later.
Discussions continue when Ganpat Gaikwad suddenly gets up, brandishes a gun, aims it at one of the three men and opens fire, triggering pandemonium. The three men rush to the door of the room but the BJP MLA fires again.
When two of the men manage to get out and police officials enter the room, the BJP MLA hits the remaining man with the butt of his gun and continues to attack him even as police officials and others attempt to pull him off while preventing two other men from intervening. On the other end of the room, another man is seen assaulting an associate of one of the leaders.
The BJP MLA and two of his associates have been arrested and Mahesh Gaikwad and an aide are undergoing treatment after suffering gunshot wounds.
The opposition has demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Shinde, with the Congress claiming that there was a law-and-order breakdown in the state. Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut also blamed Mr Shinde for the incident.
The Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also hold the home portfolio, ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident calling it “serious.” “The incident is serious and I have asked the DGP (Director General of Police) to hold a high-level Inquiry. Everyone is equal before the law irrespective of their political affiliations,” Mr Fadnavis told reporters.
“The probe will find out what made the MLA open fire and under what circumstances,” he said. The State BJP chief Chandrashekhar Bawankule said the party will take action against the MLA if he was found guilty.
Soon after the incident, a police official said prima facie, a property dispute seems to be the reason behind the incident. “Ganpat Gaikwad and Harshal Nana Kene from Kalyan West first fired on Mahesh and Rahul Patil inside the cabin of the senior inspector of Hill Line police station in Ulhasnagar. Sandeep Anant Sarvankar and other associates were also booked as they were supporting Ganpat. Sarvankar has been arrested along with Ganpat and Kene. We are looking for three more accused,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 4-Thane) Sudhakar Pathare said.
Ganpat Gaikwad is a three time MLA from Kalyan East and a recent entrant into the BJP. He had earlier contested and won elections as an independent in 2009 and 2014 before joining the BJP in 2019. Gaikwad is a bitter critic of Eknath Shinde and his son Lok Sabha MP Shrikant Shinde having accused them in the past of meddling with work in his constituency.
Gaikwad had also been making statements in the past stating that the BJP should put up a candidate from the Kalyan Lok Sabha seat which is now represented by Shrikant Shinde.