June 23, 2022 12:17:29 pm
Even as the number of rebels in the group led by Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde is rising, senior Sena leaders said Thursday that at least 17-20 party MLAs have been on the radar of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and want to “get out of their predicament” by jumping ship. Other 10-15 rebels who are also involved in various businesses also feared getting ED notices, added the Sena leaders.
When asked whether ED notices were the prime reason behind the Sena MLAs trying to join hands with the BJP, Shiv Sena chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut told the Indian Express on Thursday, “As per my information a majority of the rebel MLAs have received ED notices. The BJP has been putting pressure on them through the ED. Other MLAs were also on the watch of the agency.”
Asked whether Shinde was also on ED radar, Raut said, “Yes, as per my information…”
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A senior Sena leader said, “Many of the rebel group leaders have been making rounds of the ED offices. And after that, they have been meeting Eknath Shinde and BJP leaders. It is clear that they want to get out of their predicament by joining hands with the BJP.”
When asked whether Shinde was ready to hold a one-on-one meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Raut said, “We have already urged him to come down to Mumbai for a meeting. This was done on phone as well as the CM made the appeal through the Facebook live session. But until the MLAs and Shinde come down to Mumbai, nothing can be said or done.”
Shinde, who told a TV news channel on Wednesday that he had the support of 46 MLAs and the numbers would go up, on Thursday tweeted that the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has benefitted during the two-and-a-half-year alliance while the Sena has been hit hard.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena sources said Uddhav Thackeray who is set to hold a meeting with senior party leaders and MPs is likely to make a big announcement. “He might take a decisive move… It is possible that he might resign. Aaditya Thackeray has already removed the ‘minister’ word from his Twitter handle. The CM has moved to Matoshree,” said a leader.
“Eknath Shinde is unrelenting and has made no such offer that Uddhav Thackeray should continue in the saddle. Therefore, it seems to be all over for Uddhav Thackeray,” said a former Sena MP.
Like the Shiv Sena, the NCP is also holding a meeting of its MLA in Mumbai to decide the future course of action as the MVA government’s fall has become imminent. The meeting will be presided over by party chief Sharad Pawar.
NCP spokesperson Clyde Crasto said, “A meeting of MLAs and ministers of NCP has been planned today. Our party chief will preside over the meeting.”
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