Maha crisis: 3 more Sena legislators join rebel MLAs camping at Assam hotel
The political crisis in Maharashtra seems to be slowly tilting in favour of rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde with four more party MLAs reaching Guwahati on Thursday and joining the others who have been camping at a five-star hotel in the city since Wednesday.
The new Shiv Sena MLAs who reached Guwahati airport on Thursday morning and moved to the hotel are Mangesh Kudalkar, Deepak Vasant Kesarkar, Sada Sarvankar and Sanjay Rathod.
With the newcomers joining the rebel group, the number of Shiv Sena legislators who are with Shinde rose to 35. He already had the support of seven Independent MLAs who are also staying in the hotel.
In a show of strength, Shinde and all his supporters posed for a group photo inside the hotel on Thursday afternoon with the MLAs shouting, ‘Shinde tum aage badho, hum tumhare saath hai’ (Shinde you move ahead, we are with you). There was no interaction with the media personnel present.
While the numbers have increased, Shinde is still short of the required 37 Shiv Sena MLAs needed to ensure that they don’t get expelled from the party and can stake claim to form a government with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) support.
That might change soon with reports of a few more Shiv Sena legislators planning to shift to Guwahat and show allegiance to Shinde. Details of how many MLAs are expected to join the rebel camp are not available yet.
On Thursday afternoon, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma reached the hotel. It was speculated that he was there to meet Shinde and other MLAs, but that couldn’t be substantiated. Sangma’s National Peoples’ Party is part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre and the BJP is part of the government in Meghalaya.
Earlier in the day, around 100 Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers and leaders staged a ‘dharna’ outside the Guwahati hotel, where Shinde and other MLAs are staying. ‘Stop MLA trading. Provide relief to flood affected people’, read the placards carried by the protesters. ‘Stop murder of democracy’, ‘Stop sale and purchase of MLAs’, the protesters shouted.
“It’s a shameful episode in Assam’s political history that our state has become the playground of horse-trading of legislators. The BJP-led government in Assam should have focussed on providing relief to the state’s flood affected. But instead of doing that, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and other BJP leaders are indulging in buying and selling of MLAs from another state,” TMC state unit chief Ripun Bora said.