'Still respect you...': Uddhav Thackeray's message to rebels as he quit as CM
Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray quit as Maharashtra chief minister late Wednesday night, less than an hour after the Supreme Court green-lit a floor test the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi would have lost. In his resignation speech, streamed on Facebook Live, Thackeray again made an emotional appeal to the rebel MLAs who joined hands with Eknath Shinde to bring down his 2.5-year-old government, telling them 'I still respect your feelings'.
"Who are you angry with? Me? Congress or Nationalist Congress Party (the other two members of the MVA)? Rather than going to Surat and speaking up, you should have come to me at Matoshree," Thackeray reproached the rebels.
In his brief but dignified speech Thackeray also thanked Congress chief Sonia Gandhia and NCP leader Sharad Pawar - both of whom have been steadfast in their support of him and the Shiv Sena during this crisis.
He also aimed a jab at the rebels, pointing out only four Sena ministers (one was his son Aaditya Thackeray) were present for Wednesday cabinet meet.
"In a democracy, heads are counted to show numbers. I am not interested in that. Tomorrow, they will say that they have brought down Balasaheb's son."
Earlier, at a few minutes past 9 pm, the Supreme Court cleared the decks for the floor test scheduled for Thursday morning.
The test was cleared after a flurry of arguments by three parties - Uddhav Thackeray, governor Koshyari, and the rebels led by Shinde.
The Maharashtra government has been roiled in crisis over the past week - ever since Shinde decamped to Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat and then Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam with a steadily growing following.
The rebels left Assam - where they were stashed at a luxury hotel in Guwahati - on a chartered SpiceJet flight this evening for Goa - booked into another luxury hotel - and were to come directly for a floor test that will now not take place.
Shinde claims the support of 50 lawmakers, including nearly 40 from the Sena - which would have been more than enough to break the MVA government, which was undoubtedly a factor in Uddhav Thackeray resigning.
Over the past week Uddhav Thackeray has made several appeals to the rebels - in tones ranging from emotional to combative - urging them to stand down and come back to Mumbai.
He also said he would leave the MVA - a demand of Shinde, who called the alliance 'unholy' - and even quit as chief minister, so long as the rebel lawmakers met him face-to-face.