Maha crisis: Rebel Shinde says 46 MLAs with them, warns ‘numbers will rise’
Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde said that he and other rebel MLAs are yet to decide on their future course of action, and are also not holding any talks with their party or chief minister Uddhav Thackeray as of now.
Even as the political impasse in Maharashtra shows faint hopes at the moment to be resolved, rebel minister and Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde on Wednesday alleged that as many as 46 MLAs are now with him and the “number will rise in the time to come”.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Shinde said that of the 46 MLAs, six to seven are independent ones while the remaining are his party colleagues.
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The rebel minister, however, stated that they have neither received any proposal from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nor are planning to hold any talks with the saffron camp regarding forming a government in Maharashtra.
“As far as [the] current political situation is concerned, I'd say that we are Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sainiks and will continue to be Shiv Sainiks,” Shinde was quoted as saying by ANI.
Shinde said that he or the other MLAs who support him are yet to decide on their “future course of action”, and are not holding any talks with the Sena or Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray as of now.
Shinde's claim about 46 MLAs siding with him and other rebel MLAs does little to address the already piled up problems for the Sena as earlier this morning, the minister said nearly 40 MLAs are with him, ANI reported.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil echoed Shinde on Tuesday, saying that neither the party nor Shinde has sent any proposal to form a government in the western state.
The rebel minister along with other Sena MLAs are currently in Assam where they reached Wednesday morning. Shinde was welcomed at the airport by some BJP leaders.
Once a top lieutenant of the Maharashtra CM, Shinde's rebellion which was reported on Tuesday came hours after the state legislative council polls wherein the BJP won as many as five seats and cross-voting was alleged.
Shinde's stand on the entire crisis is going back to an alliance with the BJP as he continues to vow his loyalty to Hindutva and the Sena founder. However, Sena MP and party spokesperson Sanjay Raut has repeatedly shown scepticism about the demand, highlighting that “everyone, including Shinde” is aware why the two former allies parted ways after 25 years of alliance.
Uddhav Thackeray is scheduled to meet state legislators at his residence ‘Varsha’ at 5pm today. Ahead of the meeting, Sena has issued letters to all legislators asking them to attend the meeting without fail. In any other scenario, the legislators will then be considered to have decided to quit the party voluntarily, the letter signed by Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu added.
In retaliation, Shinde tweeted that Bharat Gogavale - one of the rebel MLAs, has been appointed as Sena's chief whip. The minister termed Prabhu's ultimatum “legally invalid”.
Maharashtra is ruled by the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which constitutes the Sena, Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The coalition had won trust vote in November 2019, with as many as 169 MLAs voting in favour of the unit. The coalition jointly has 152 MLAs, with Sena accounting for the most at 55. Any party or alliance requires as many as 144 MLAs to be in power with simple majority as the 288-member Maharashtra legislative assembly.
(With inputs from bureau, and agencies)