Shiv Sena Party: BITTER SPLIT?

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Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray virtually addresses party's district leaders' meeting, in Mumbai on Friday. (ANI Photo)

A rebellion against Uddhav Thackeray has deepened the political crisis in Maharashtra. The MVA government may survive the crisis, but the future of Shiv Sena under Thackeray has been thrown into doubt

Our Bureau
Mumbai/Guwahati/New Delhi

In a major development, Shiv Sena leaders on Friday, after the conclusion of a virtual meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, said that they will “fight out” the ongoing political crisis in the state and the party is intact.

Shiv Sena leader Sachin Ahir who attended the meeting, said, “Today we had a party meeting with district leaders. After CM Uddhav Thackeray’s speech, party leaders were filled with energy. MLAs may not be here but the party is intact. Party’s full base is there and with this spirit, we will fight.” Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said that what the rebel MLAs are resorting to is “illegal and politically not feasible”.

“We are Shivsainiks, we will fight and win. What they are doing is illegal, legally not tenable and politically not feasible,” she said.

The political crisis in Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra erupted after party legislators joined a rebellion led by Eknath Shinde who is staying at a hotel in Guwahati. The rebel MLAs who are at a hotel in Guwahati and authorised Shinde to decide on a further course of action. Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde along with 38 party MLAs and nine independent MLAs are campaigning at Radisson Blu Hotel in Guwahati from June 22.

Thackeray said rebel Shiv Sena MLAs who are camping in Guwahati want to “break the party”. As Eknath Shinde appears to be tightening his grip on Shiv Sena with the number of rebels rising to 38, Thackeray called a meeting of the party’s district chiefs today where he said that he left the Varsha Bungalow but not the “will to fight”.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray addresses a press conference, in Mumbai on Wednesday. (ANI Photo)

“I have said it earlier also that I don’t have anything to do with power. The people who used to say that they would rather die than leave Shiv Sena have fled today,” the Shiv Sena chief said during his virtual address at the meeting.

“The rebel MLAs want to break the party. I had never thought in dreams that I would become the chief minister. I have left Varsha Bungalow but not the will to fight,” he added.

Targeting Shinde, Thackeray said that he did everything for the rebel leader and yet a lot of allegations are levelled against him.

Notably, the Chief Minister had vacated the official residence of the CM on Wednesday night and moved to his family residence ‘Matoshree’ along with his family.

Amid the continuing political crisis in Maharashtra due to revolt in the Shiv Sena, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar arrived at Matoshree, the residence of the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai. The leaders were accompanied by state minister Jayant Patil and NCP leader Praful Patel. The leaders are expected to discuss ways to prevent fall of MVA government, which also includes the Congress.

Ajit Pawar said earlier in the day that the NCP stands with the Chief Minister and will try to “keep the government stable”.

The crisis continued to plague Shiv Sena with rebel leader Eknath Shinde claiming support of 38 party MLAs. Thackeray convened a meeting of district chiefs of the party and said he left Varsha Bungalow, the official residence of the Chief Minister, but not the “will to fight”.

Thackeray had vacated the official residence of the CM on Wednesday night and moved to his family residence ‘Matoshree’ along with his family.

Amid the continuing turf war within Shiv Sena, the Shinde faction also said that Bharat Gogawale has been appointed as Chief Whip of the party.

Rebel Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLAs with party leader Eknath Shinde at Radisson Blu Hotel, amid Maharashtra Political Crisis, in Guwahati on Friday. Shinde claims that he has the support of 38 Shiv Sena MLAs. (ANI Photo)

The letter has the signatures of 37 Shiv Sena MLAs and a copy of the letter has been sent to Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and Secretary to the Legislative Council Rajendra Bhagwat.

The three legislators who arrived in Guwahati on Thursday include Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse, MLA Sanjay Rathore and MLC Ravindra Phatak.

Phatak is believed to be a close associate of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who had sent him as an emissary to Surat where the rebel MLAs were lodged.

The situation for Thackeray continues to become grimmer with his close aide switching sides and the chief minister himself falling short of numbers.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge held the central government led by the BJP responsible for the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra where around 40 Shiv Sena MLAs have revolted against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government and are currently camping in Guwahati.

Kharge alleged that the BJP-led Centre is attempting to “destabilise” the “strong” Maha Vikas Aghadi government in view of the forthcoming presidential poll next month as they need numbers to get their presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu victorious in the poll slated to be held on July 18.

Shinde also made a veiled reference to BJP and said “a big national party” has told him that his decision was “historic” and they will be present whenever he needs them.

However, BJP had said the Maharashtra crisis is Shiv Sena’s internal matter and the party has nothing to do with it.

Nationalist Congress Party leader Jayant Patil had said his party is “firmly standing with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray”.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly on Friday approved Shiv Sena’s proposal to appoint MLA Ajay Chaudhary as party’s legislative party leader in the state Assembly. A letter in this regard was sent to the Shiv Sena office secretary by the Deputy speaker’s office. MLA Ajay Chaudhary replaced rebel MLA Eknath Shinde, expediting the need for the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition to prove its majority through a floor test.

These developments came to the fore after a severe political crisis in Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra erupted after the party legislators joined a rebellion led by Eknath Shinde who is staying at a hotel in Guwahati.

Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat claimed that both Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) were trying to eliminate Shiv Sena politically from Maharashtra and the MLAs made countless attempts to inform Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray about the malafide intentions of alliance partners.

Amid the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Friday expressed confidence that Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government would win the floor test in the State Assembly. He also said that the rebel MLAs have taken a very wrong step and said that the MVA government will complete the rest of the remaining years of the five-year tenure in office. “We will win on the Floor of the House, we won’t give up. They (MLAs) have taken a very wrong step. We also gave them a chance to return to Mumbai. Now, we challenge them to come to Mumbai,” he said.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar coming out after the party meeting, in Mumbai on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

The Shiv Sena leader also challenged the leaders to fight face to face. “We won’t relent…we will win on the floor of the house (State Assembly). If this battle is fought on roads, we will win that too. We gave the opportunity to those who left, but now it’s too late. I challenge them to come on the floor of the house. MVA govt will complete rest of 2.5 yrs,” said Raut.

Earlier, Raut has warned Ekanth Shinde-led rebel MLAs and said that if needed ‘Shiv Sena workers will come on the roads. “Eknath Shinde faction that’s challenging us must realise that Shiv Sena workers are yet to come on the roads. Such battles are fought either through law or on the roads. If need be then our workers would come on the roads,” said Shiv Sena leader.

Eknath Shinde is appearing to be holding a tight grip on the Shiv Sena, as the strength of MLAs supporting him is expected to cross 50 as more legislators are likely to reach Guwahati on Friday thus further deepening the political crisis in Maharashtra.

The situation for Thackeray continues to become grimmer with his close aide switching sides and the chief minister himself falling short of numbers.

It seems that the legacy of Bal Thackeray, who founded Shiv Sena, has slipped from the hands of Uddhav Thackeray with the rebellion of Eknath Shinde as he claims of being a true Shivsainik, the battle of who holds the true legacy of Balasaheb has started.

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