Shinde-led Sena removes accused Mihir Shah’s father as deputy leader

Mumbai: A businessman dealing in scrap, a supplier of construction material, Shiv Sena deputy leader and a close aide of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. This is how Shiv Sainiks describe Rajesh Shah whose son Mihir is accused in the BMW hit-and-run incident that resulted in the death of a woman.

Amid mounting criticism of the state government, the Shinde-led Shiv Sena Wednesday removed Rajesh Shah as its deputy leader, hours after the police arrested his son.

Immediately after the accident early Sunday morning, the Mumbai police arrested Rajesh Shah and invoked charges of culpable homicide against him. However, he got bail in the case and Mihir, after absconding for nearly 60 hours, was caught by Mumbai police late Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Aaditya Thackeray and Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh met deceased Kaveri Nakhwa’s husband Pradeep, who demanded the strictest action against Mihir Shah. “This case should be treated as murder and not a hit-and-run case. The strictest punishment should be given to him. Nobody should shield him,” said Thackeray.

CM Shinde, meanwhile, denied allegations that his government facilitated special treatment for Mihir Shah, adding: “In front of the law, everyone’s the same. Nobody will be given any special treatment. We won’t spare anyone.”

Who is Rajesh Shah?

Rajesh Shah has been actively involved in Sena activities in Palghar and campaigned for the party in the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year.

According to sources, Rajesh Shah entered politics in the early 2000s and was a close friend of Shinde’s, who was then overseeing party activities in Thane.

Rajesh was Palghar district head in the undivided Shiv Sena and decided to go with Shinde after the split in 2022.

However, in April 2023, Shinde made Kundan Sankhe the district head while Rajesh became deputy leader.

“Shah was previously the district head, but when Sankhe was appointed to the post, Shah had to be accommodated. You cannot give any post to such a person. Plus, he was close to Shinde Saheb. So he was made deputy leader,” said a functionary from the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.

Being a businessman, Shah was good at networking and communication, another Sena functionary said. He added that Shah has a house in Palghar’s Kelve-Mahim area and another in Borivali.

Leaders of the Shiv Sena (UBT) had accused Shinde of shielding Mihir Shah because of his father. “All the grandstanding about his (CM’s) concern and directives to the police, is simply an eyewash,” said Aaditya Thackeray.

(Edited by Tikli Basu)

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