Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, who arrived in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam early this morning, claimed he has support of 46 MLAs – 40 from his party and 6 Independents.
“I have support of 46 MLAs including Independents,” he told NDTV.
Denying that he has any plan to switch parties, Eknath Shinde said that he is not breaking away from Shiv Sena and will carry forward the ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray.
‘We have not left Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and will not leave it. We believe in Hindutva,” he said.
The MLAs were received at Guwahati airport by BJP leaders Pallab Lochan Das and Sushanta Borgohain Shinde, while Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was seen at the five-star hotel prepared for them.
Before leaving for Assam, Eknath Shinde and other party MLAs had been camping in a Surat hotel in Gujarat – another BJP-ruled state.
The move to shift them to Guwahati came shortly after his telephonic conversation with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Mr Shinde demanded that the Sena renew its alliance with the BJP and jointly rule Maharashtra, sources said.
Reports suggest the MLAs were airlifted to Assam by the BJP to avoid any further confrontation with Sena leaders.
As the government stands deep in crisis, Shiv Sena has housed its remaining MLAs in different hotels in Mumbai. Mr Shinde was sacked as party’s Chief Whip on Tuesday afternoon, he retaliated by dropping Shiv Sena from his Twitter bio.
Before making the change in his Twitter bio, Mr Shinde had tweeted that he is a “Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sainik” and would never cheat for power.
“Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva. We have never and will never cheat for power regarding Balasaheb’s thoughts and Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb’s teachings,” he said in the tweet.
Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut has claimed the rebellion has been engineered by the BJP to topple the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance – a claim denied by the BJP.
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil, however, said that his party would “definitely consider” a proposal to form an alternative government if it comes from Eknath Sinde.
The crisis in Maharashtra unfolded after suspected cross-voting in Monday’s Legislative Council elections in which BJP won five of 10 seats, although its own numbers entitled the party to four seats