Amid a rebellion powered by Shiv Sena strongman and cabinet minister Eknath Shinde, the party seems to have upset its allies NCP and Congress after Sena MP Sanjay Raut said they are ready to quit the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government if the rebel MLAs return to Mumbai.
Speaking to reporters in the Maharashtra capital, Raut said, “You say you are real Shiv Sainiks and will not quit the party. We are ready to consider your demand provided you come back to Mumbai in 24 hours and discuss the issue with CM Uddhav Thackeray. Your demand will be considered positively. Don’t write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp,” he said.
“The rebels who are out of Mumbai have raised the issue of Hindutva. If all these MLAs feel that Shiv Sena should walk out of the MVA, show the guts to come back to Mumbai…Your demand will be considered. But come and talk with Uddhav Thackeray,” he added.
The comments, however, didn’t go down well with allies NCP, with sources telling CNN-News18 that it was discussed by the NCP as MLAs were unhappy and raised the matter with party president Sharad Pawar at the meeting held in the evening. Mahesh Bharat Tapase, NCP spokesperson, earlier said, “We will discuss Raut’s statement in the NCP meeting today.”
Congress, too, isn’t pleased with Raut’s remarks and held a meeting this evening where the matter was discussed, sources said.
Shinde – the man responsible for plunging the MVA government into a survival crisis – is currently camping with over 40 MLAs in Guwahati. Speaking to News18, Shinde said the rebel camp had the numbers — 40, by his estimate — and there was no question of going back on their decision.
Sources in the BJP claimed Uddhav is left with the support of only 15 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly, and even some of them could leave his side soon. On paper, the Shiv Sena, which heads the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi alliance, has 55 MLAs, followed by allies NCP at 53 and Congress at 44. But with Shinde claiming the support of more than 40 MLAs, it would be an uphill climb for the Thackeray camp to prove its majority.
CM Thackeray had on Wednesday offered to quit the top post amid the rebellion by Shinde and later also vacated his official residence, Varsha, in south Mumbai and moved to Matoshree, his family home in suburban Bandra.
(With PTI inputs)