(This article was originally published in Newschecker Marathi by Sandesh Thorve)
Over a week-long political turmoil in Maharashtra which resulted in the dethroning of Uddhav Thackeray has put a limelight on Shiv Sena ‘rebel’ leader Eknath Shinde, who has since taken over as the Chief Minister of the state. In this background, an old photograph showing the late Marathi strongman and Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray marking a ‘tilak’ on the forehead of a man is going viral on social media platforms. Users claim that the man seen in the photo with Thackeray is Eknath Shinde. Newschecker found the claim to be untrue.
Several Twitter users shared the photograph with the claim “Balasaheb Thackeray giving blessings to Eknath Shinde.”
The Shinde-led rebel faction continues to maintain that they firmly believe in the ideology of Bal Thackeray and are still a part of Shiv Sena. The rebel group in fact named itself ‘Shiv Sena (Balasaheb). After over a week of political crisis, the rebel Shiv Sena faction backed by the BJP formed the government in Maharashtra and Shinde was sworn in as the new CM on Thursday. “My colleagues and the whole of Maharashtra is happy that Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sainik has become the chief minister of the state,” Shinde said on Friday, adding that they would take Thackeray’s vision forward.
Newschecker began the investigation by scanning the comment sections of posts associated with the photograph claiming to show Bal Thackeray blessing Eknath Shinde. A reply to a tweet by @Brijesh34228553 by user @PanksLock stated that the man seen in the photograph along with Thackeray is “not Eknath Shinde He is Dharmaveer Anand Dighr Saheb Guru of Eknath Shinde. “
Taking a clue, we conducted a keyword search for ‘‘धर्मवीर स्व. आनंद दिघे साहेब” on Twitter which led us to a post by the official account of Shiv Sena, dated August 26, 2021. The tweet carried the viral image with the caption which roughly translates to “The memory of Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb remains in the mind of every Shiv Sainik. Greetings to them on the occasion of Memorial Day.”
The same photograph was tweeted by Shiv Sena leader Yashwant Jadhav, dated January 27, 2022, with the caption, “the memory of Dharamveer Anand Dighe Saheb remains in the mind of every Shiv Sainik. Respect to him on the occasion of his memorial day.”
Further, an article published in BBC Marathi on June 21, 2019 with the title which translates to “Who was Anand Dighe, the political mentor of Eknath Shinde?,” also carried the viral image with the caption “Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe.”
We also came across a video uploaded on the official channel of Lokmat on April 22, 20222 with the title “Why should Anand Dighe be called ‘Balasaheb Thackeray of Thane’? |Who is Anand Dighe? Dharmveer.” 1:48 minutes into the video, we found the viral image. The man seen in the photograph with Balasaheb Thackeray was identified as Anand Dighe.
Who Was Anand Dighe?
Dighe was a Shiv Sena stalwart who started his journey as a party worker and went on to lead its Thane unit. He is credited with establishing the Anand Ashram in Tembhi Naka area of Thane where Janta Darbar used to be organised each morning. Dighe died in 2001 following a heart attack. Following his death, an article in Frontline noted that Dighe’s “brazen clout reached a point where he was even able to stand up to Bal Thackeray…. Dighe, however, never contested an election or aspired for any post. He had become the de facto Bal Thackeray of Thane.”
The article further stated, “Dighe’s popularity was best reflected in the fact that thousands of people came to pay their last respects in spite of a bandh that day in Thane.”
Anand Dighe is known to have introduced Eknath Shinde to politics, who toppled the MVA government-led by Balasaheb Thackeray’s son Uddhav Thackeray and sworn in as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
Viral social media post claiming to show Balasaheb Thackeray blessing Eknath Shinde, is false. The man seen in the photo is Anand Dighe.
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