The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government is facing an aggravating crisis after a revolt by Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde who has taken along with him 21 other MLAs to BJP-ruled Gujarat. Shinde has dropped “Shiv Sena” from his Twitter description, hinting at his defection, while the chief minister has sacked him from the Shiv Sena.
Shinde’s intention became clearer when he posted a tweet that translated to: “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.”
Sharad Pawar, chief of Sena ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said he had “full faith” in Uddhav Thackeray and assured that the coalition would find a way out of the situation. He said it was an internal matter of Shiv Sena. Pawar, who is in Delhi for the opposition’s meeting over the presidential election, is likely to meet Thackeray tonight, sources have said.
There are, in all, 21 Shiv Sena MLAs at the hotel, five of them ministers, and an independent MLA. Uddhav Thackeray called an emergency meeting at his house this afternoon and many of the several MLAs other than those with Shinde stayed away from the meeting, said sources.
Shiv Sena sources said they would not be sending anyone to Gujarat to talk to Shinde and that he would need to come if he needed to discuss the situation with the party leadership. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, targeting the BJP, there was a conspiracy to topple the MVA 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.
“Eknath Shinde was with us at the hotel and was trying to ensure an MVA candidate’s victory. We cannot say anything until we speak to him,” Raut told reporters. He said that they had spoken to Pawar. Raut said further that they have spoken to some of the MLAs in Surat. “Some of them want to return, but they are not being allowed to,” he said, stressing that the MLAs are “loyalist Shiv Sainiks”.
Shinde, it is learnt, may address the media soon. A prominent Shiv Sena leader in Thane, he played a key role in strengthening the organisation in the region. His son, Dr Shrikant Shinde, is Shiv Sena’s MP from Kalyan. He was named the leader of the opposition in 2014 after the Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP.
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said his party had nothing to do with the developments. Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP’s top leader in Maharashtra, reached Delhi today and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah, triggering speculations.
Hours ago, the MVA and the BJP won five seats each in the legislative council election. The opposition BJP won all five seats it contested. INC candidate Chandrakant Handore lost in a setback for the ruling alliance.