Maharashtra Minister and top Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has reportedly moved to a hotel in Gujarat’s Surat with 13 other party MLAs, setting off alarm bells in the Uddhav Thackeray government.
Targeting the BJP, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there is a conspiracy to topple the Uddhav Thackeray government in the “same pattern as in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan”. “Shiv Sena is a party of loyalists. We won’t let that happen,” he said.
Sources say Shinde, who is reportedly upset, is “unreachable”. Palghar MLA Srinivas Vanga, Aligarh legislator Mahendra Dalvi and Bhiwandi Rural Shantaram More are also “unreachable”, it is learnt.
Opposition BJP’s sources have claimed that besides the 13 Sena MLAs with Mr Shinde, there are five Independent MLAs at the Surat hotel too.
This comes hours after the Maha Vikas Aghadi ruling alliance and the BJP won five seats each in the Legislative Assembly elections. Opposition BJP won all five seats it contested. Congress candidate Chandrakant Handore lost in a setback for the ruling alliance.
Shinde, it is learnt, may address the media at noon. The situation may turn into a major crisis for the ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
A prominent Sena leader in Thane, Shinde has played a key role in strengthening the organisation in the region. His son, Dr Shrikant Shinde, is Sena’s Member of Parliament from Kalyan.
Seen as a mass leader, Shinde was named Leader of the Opposition in 2014 after the Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP. When the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was formed, he was appointed cabinet minister for Urban Development and Public Works (Public Undertakings).
Of late, there have been reports that Shinde is upset with the leadership and has been feeling sidelined.
Former Sena leader Narayan Rane, who is now with the BJP, had a cheeky response. “No comments should be made on such things, else what is the point of being unreachable,” he said.
Mahesh Tapase, spokesperson for the Nationalist Congress Party, told NDTV that the future of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is “absolutely safe”.