The Shiv Sena today said it would consider exiting the Maharashtra alliance with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Congress but only if the rebels returned “in 24 hours” – a huge climbdown as the rebel group led by Eknath Shinde gained more numbers.
“We are ready to walk out of MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government in Maharashtra, but party rebels should return to Mumbai (from Guwahati) in 24 hours,” Sanjay Raut, who is Shiv Sena’s chief spokesperson, said.
Raut said the MLAs should “discuss the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray” and added, “Don’t write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp.”
Eknath Shinde, camping in Guwahati with around 41 MLAs, has demanded the Sena break its alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, or NCP, saying that Shiv Sena leaders suffered the most in the last two-and-a-half years of the coalition’s rule. The MLAs have booked the hotel in Guwahati for a week, indicating they are prepared for the long haul.
Deepak Kesarkar, the latest to join the party’s rebel camp, said no one wanted Uddhav Thackeray to resign as Chief Minister of Maharashtra. “Instead, we want him to get into an alliance with the BJP and form a new government with a natural ally,” he told NDTV.
The rebel MLAs have also accused the Maharashtra Chief Minister of shutting his doors to them and keeping them waiting for hours. “We were denied entry to the Chief Minister’s house for 2.5 years,” wrote Sanjay Shirsat, one of the MLAs in Guwahati with the rebels.
As of yesterday (Eknath) Shinde had 37 Shiv Sena MLAs. Today I along with three others from Shiv Sena and one independent MLA reached here. Two to three are expected to reach in the next few hours,” Mr Kesakar told NDTV.
Uddhav Thackeray is reduced to a minority chief in the party founded and led for decades by his father, Bal Thackeray. Only 13 MLAs were present at a meeting called by him today, sources told NDTV. “When they (the MLAs) come to Mumbai, you will get to know, (it) will soon be revealed, in what circumstances, pressure these MLAs left us,” said Sanjay Raut.
The Congress and Sharad Pawar’s party – the alliance partners of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra – had suggested that Eknath Shinde be named as Chief Minister as a way out of the huge political crisis that has engulfed the ruling coalition, sources said.
The BJP says the political crisis in Maharashtra is the Shiv Sena’s internal matter and that the party is not staking claim to form a government in the state. “We haven’t spoken to Eknath Shinde. This is Shiv Sena’s internal matter. BJP has nothing to do with this. We’re not staking claim to form the government,” Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve, who met party leader Devendra Fadnavis, told the media.