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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Maharashtra political crisis Shiv Sena hopeful of ghar wapsi but rebels firm on demand

Maharashtra political crisis: Shiv Sena hopeful of ghar wapsi, but rebels firm on demand

Updated on: 22 June,2022 07:25 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Sena leaders say minister Eknath Shinde and the rebel MLAs in Surat are under pressure from the BJP, but will return as they are diehard Sainiks

Maharashtra political crisis: Shiv Sena hopeful of ghar wapsi, but rebels firm on demand

Shiv Sena’s Milind Narvekar arrives to speak with Eknath Shinde, at Le Meridien hotel in Surat, on Tuesday

Though rocked by the revolt of Shiv Sena strongman Eknath Shinde and several party MLAs, who escaped to neighbouring Gujarat on Tuesday, the Shiv Sena remained hopeful of their return. The CM is said to have told his men that Shinde was coming back to the Sena’s fold, but the latter’s supporters said not until the party once again joins hands with the BJP.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government was in for a rude shock on Tuesday morning, when minister Shinde threatened the collapse of the government by claiming the support of several party MLAs. The party’s group leader in the Assembly escaped to Surat with at least 22 members of the legislature last night.

While Shinde’s supporters claimed he has at least 40 MLAs, sufficient for forming a separate group without getting disqualified, Sena said the number did not exceed 16. The party workers protested at Sena Bhavan and vowed to teach ‘betrayers’ a lesson.

MP model

A shocked Sena blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party for the revolt and accused it of trying to implement the Madhya Pradesh pattern in Maharashtra.  

CM Uddhav Thackeray’s personal secretary Milind Narvekar and other Sena members reach Le Meridien hotel in Surat, on Tuesday. Pic/Pradeep Gohil
CM Uddhav Thackeray’s personal secretary Milind Narvekar and other Sena members reach Le Meridien hotel in Surat, on Tuesday. Pic/Pradeep Gohil

To Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Shinde has posed a condition for returning to the party fold: Sena should snap ties with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress and form a government with the BJP. He has a Hindutva premise to press for his demand, but there are several other reasons for his mutiny. The urban development minister has been feeling side-tracked in the party.

Shinde’s dramatic escape came after the Sena’s slender win in the MLC polls on Monday. The party’s several MLAs and associates cross-voted in the elections that saw the BJP’s extra candidate winning and a Congress nominee going down. In the Rajya Sabha polls about 10 days ago, the Sena lost one of its two candidates in a closely fought battle. The BJP has attributed the Sena’s defeats to unrest within the party, and sensed an opportunity for a comeback through Shinde’s mutiny.

‘He will return’

However, Thackeray, on Tuesday afternoon, told his ‘remaining’ party MLAs and leaders that he spoke with Shinde over the phone and he was returning.

“Shinde will come back. There’s nothing about you and me. He knows how we suffered when we were with the BJP. How can we get back to square one?” the CM is said to have told the gathering. Shinde’s supporters claimed he refused to return if his demand was not met.  

Thackeray had sent his personal secretary, Milind Narvekar, and Shinde’s MLC friend Ravindra Phakat to Surat with his message. The two returned after meeting with him. BJP’s Sanjay Kute and Girish Mahajan also met Shinde, but the party said it was an individual initiative, and not prompted by the leadership. Later in the evening, Union Minister of State for Railways Raosaheb Danve met Shinde at a Surat hotel. 

High security outside the hotel in Surat, Gujarat, where rebel Sena MLAs are staying
High security outside the hotel in Surat, Gujarat, where rebel Sena MLAs are staying

Earlier, Thackeray did not spare Shinde for indiscipline, sacking him from the legislative party leader’s position. Shinde’s supporters said he has objected to the action and would continue to hold his post because he has the support of more MLAs than Thackeray.

Meanwhile, Shinde tweeted that he was an ardent follower of Hindutva that was propagated by Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray and his mentor Anand Dighe. It was a clear indication that he preferred undiluted Hindutva against the Sena’s new Hindutva. He also removed his Sena-related information from his social media bio.

As Thackeray tried to douse the fire, his alliance partners watched the development with concern and committed their support. However, NCP boss Sharad Pawar played down the episode by calling it “the Sena’s internal matter which will be resolved with discussions”. He said there was rebellion when the MVA government was formed, but the action was tamed. “We will present our position after the Sena tells us its own,” he added.  

When asked if the NCP would join hands with the BJP in case the MVA government dissolves, he said his party would rather sit in the Opposition. Pawar said he did not know that Shinde wanted to be the CM. “It has to be decided by the Sena. As of now, Uddhav Thackeray is the CM. There is no need to change that,” he added.

Sena hopeful

Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut was hopeful of patching up with Shinde and others. “We know the reasons for their action. They are under pressure from the BJP. But all of them are die hard sainiks and they will return,” he said, accusing the BJP of engineering the whole thing.

“The BJP is trying Operation Lotus here like it did in MP and Rajasthan, but it will fail. Some MLAs have been assaulted. Many MLAs want to return from Surat, but are not allowed by the Gujarat police and the BJP,” he said, adding that the Thackeray government will prove its majority on the floor of the House.

Unaffected by the accusations, the BJP preferred to wait and watch. “It’s Sena internal matter. It proves the unrest in the Sena and the MVA as well,” said Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil. He said the BJP hadn’t received any proposal from Shinde. “But if any proposal comes, we will consider it,” he added.

Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis left for Delhi immediately after the newsbreak, and met senior party leaders and the high command.

The Sena had split in the past as well; the first major blow was Chhaga Bhujbal’s exit with nine MLAs in 1991. He joined the Congress at the Nagpur winter session. Anti-defection laws did not exist then. In 2005, Narayan Rane quit Sena with 11 MLAs, and the same year, the party hit a further low when one of the Thackerays--Raj--left the party.

In less than 48 hrs

>> Monday afternoon: Denied entry to CM’s office during MLC polls, Eknath Shinde waits in his car

>> Monday evening: Shinde gathers MLAs and dines with them at his official residence. Shinde, along with MLAs, leaves for Surat in two batches in secret

>> Monday night: Sena leadership senses trouble and CM Uddhav Thackeray calls senior leaders to his official residence. Party workers from Thane are also summoned. Home minister confers with the CM

>> Tuesday early morning: Shinde and MLAs found at a Surat hotel. Gujarat police secure the hotel as mediapersons throng it. Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis leaves for Delhi

>> Tuesday afternoon: CM meets party leaders and MLAs in the city while his representatives leave for Surat to talk to Shinde. Meanwhile, two BJP MLAs also meet Shinde

>> Tuesday evening: CM tries to convince Shinde over a phone call, but Shinde insists on restoring ties with the BJP. Shinde’s supporters claim he has 40 MLAs with him. Three MVA parties meet

>> Late Tuesday night: Airlifted from Surat to Guwahati in Assam

No. of MLAs’ support Shinde clan claims he has

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