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MVA end nears, Uddhav loses control, Sena says can exit govt if rebels return

In a tacit admission that Uddhav was no longer in control of his legislators, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the party was ready to walk out of the MVA government.

Rebel MLAs from Maharashtra enter a hotel in Guwahati on Thursday. (Express photo by Dasarath Deka)

The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition in Maharashtra appeared to be on the verge of collapse Thursday after Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray lost the support of majority party MLAs who rallied behind rebel leader Eknath Shinde and his call for ending the alliance with the “ideologically opposed” NCP and Congress.

In a tacit admission that Uddhav was no longer in control of his legislators, Shiv Sena MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut said the party was ready to walk out of the MVA government.

“If you are Shiv Sainiks, if you are saying that you are not leaving Shiv Sena and that your issue is with the government, then Shiv Sena is willing to walk out of the government and MVA alliance. But first show the courage to come here and put forward your demands in front of Uddhav Saheb. Surely, it will be considered. Come back within 24 hours, we will sit with Uddhav Saheb and think on accepting your demands,” he said.

Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde with supporting MLAs at a hotel in Guwahati on Thursday. (Express Photo)

In the same breath, Raut said, “We are in contact with 21 MLA who are in Guwahati and when they come to Mumbai, they will be with us. If there is a situation of floor test, I am sure they will vote for the MVA alliance.”

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Until Wednesday night, a total of 32 Sena MLAs were in the Shinde camp in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam. But that number touched 37 — Shinde needed the support of 37 of the 55 Sena MLAs to form a breakaway group and avoid the anti-defection law — when five more MLAs switched sides and headed to Guwahati Thursday.

While three MLAs — Deepak Kesarkar, Sada Sarvankar, Aashish Jaiswal — joined Shinde early Thursday morning, another two — Dada Bhuse and Sanjay Rathod – reached Guwahati in the evening.

In the House of 288 which is currently at 287 owing to the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke last month, the MVA needs at least 144 MLAs. Before the revolt, its strength in the House was 152 — Sena 55, NCP 53, Congress 44. The BJP strength is 106 while Others account for the remaining 29.

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Hoping to return to power, and not willing to reveal its cards yet, the BJP has been waiting for Shinde to rustle up the numbers that he needs to beat the anti-defection law.

Uddhav, who moved out of the Chief Minister’s official residence Varsha Wednesday night along with his family and belongings, called a virtual meeting of all party MLAs Thursday. Only 18 MLAs including son Aaditya Thackeray attended the meeting. While Uddhav and Aaditya attended the meeting from Matoshree, the MLAs were called to Varsha in the afternoon.

Also present at the meeting were MLAs Kailas Patil and Nitin Deshmukh who claimed they were forcibly taken to the Shinde camp. At a press conference addressed by Raut, the two MLAs narrated how they were taken to Surat and then to Guwahati by Shinde and how they struggled to return.

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While Deshmukh claimed he escaped from the camp, the Shinde camp released videos and photographs of them travelling in chartered aircraft and claimed they were sent back because they wanted to return.

Meanwhile, newly appointed Shiv Sena legislature party leader Ajay Choudhari met acting Speaker Narhari Zhirwal, asking him to take action against 12 MLAs who had joined the Shinde faction for violating party discipline.

Shinde hit back via Twitter posts, saying “Who are you trying to scare? Even we know the law, and this whip is applicable for only the legislative assembly, not meetings held outside. In this regard, the Supreme Court has already given its verdict… You cannot scare us by demanding action against 12 MLAs by submitting a letter. We are the real Shiv Sainiks and we are the Shiv Sena of Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray.”

Shinde sent Zhirwal a letter stating that he had been appointed the Sena leader in the House and Bharat Gogawale the party Chief Whip.

Earlier, Choudhari said, “I have submitted our petition to Zhirwal and we want action against them.” Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant said, “We called for two meetings on June 22 and a whip was issued by Sunil Prabhu. These MLAs were given notices and asked why they were not present. Some gave explanations, maybe real or fake. Some did not give explanations. Hence, we asked for disqualification of 12 MLAs: Eknath Shinde, Tanaji Sawant, Prakash Surve, Balaji Kinikar, Anil Babar, Lata Sonawane, Yamini Jadhav, Sanjay Shirsat, Bharat Gogawale, Sandeepan Bhumre, Abdul Sattar and Mahesh Shinde. We will ask the Speaker to take action.”

First published on: 24-06-2022 at 04:00:40 am
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