'Doors of the house open...': Raut tweets after saying Sena ready to leave MVA
Shiv Sena strongman Sanjay Raut - at the forefront of his party's pushback against rebel Eknath Shinde and the 42 MLAs stashed in Assam - has repeated his party's offer of talks with the breakaway faction, tweeting (translated from Marathi) 'discussions can show the way (forward)' and 'the doors of the house are open... why are you going to the forests?'
Raut's tweet Thursday evening came hours after he told reporters the Sena would consider quitting Maharashtra's ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition if the rebels 'show the courage to come back... make an official representation'.
The tweet also comes a day after Uddhav Thackeray shifted out of Varsha - the traditional residence of the Maharashtra chief minister - and moved into Matoshree - his family home. Visuals of Thackeray leaving and waving to hundreds of supporters as his convoy made the short trip went viral last night.
The surprise concession was also seen as a direct response to Shinde's claim about the Sena's alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party being 'unnatural'. Shinde - who earlier said he remains a follower of Balasaheb, the Sena founder - said he would return only if the Sena re-aligned with the BJP.
The concession also triggered some concerns from the Sena's allies - the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party - news agency ANI said. Both, though, have been steadfast, so far, in public support of the Shiv Sena.
Earlier on Thursday Raut also declared the Sena is still in touch with at least 20 of the MLAs in Eknath Shinde's camp and that the party's leadership remains confident of winning any trust vote the opposition BJP might call when the assembly re-opens next month. Raut warned the rebels to return in 24 hours.
Raut on Thursday also slammed Shinde's claims about being a 'true follower' of Balasaheb, declaring, 'he who leaves under the Enforcement Directorate's pressure is not a true Balasaheb bhakt' - a swipe at the BJP-led centre that has been accused of using investigative agencies to harass rivals'.
Shinde has 38 Sena MLAs and four independent lawmakers holed up in BJP-ruled Assam; they fled there from BJP-ruled Guwahati on Wednesday.
The lawmaker from Maharashtra's Thane - who has seen support in his home turf - has claimed more MLAs are ready to join. He needs 37 Sena MLAs to dodge the anti-defection law, which, as things stand, he can.
Uddhav Thackeray, who yesterday called on the rebels to come to Mumbai and demand he quit in a face-to-face meeting, has 16 MLAs in his camp.
The 55th and final Sena MLA - Dadaji Bhuse - as an 'undecided'.
A party/coalition needs 144 seats to claim power in Maharashtra. The BJP, which has 106 MLAs in addition to outside, can do so with Shinde and his rebels.