‘I’m With Hindutva, Will Not Return to Shiv Sena’: Eknath Shinde

After cabinet minister and Shiv Sena strongman Eknath Shinde plunged the MVA-led Maharashtra government into a political crisis by revolting against his party, he said he will not return to the party as he is “with Hindutva”. “I am with Hindutva and Shiv Sena has left Hindutva. I will not return to Shiv Sena,” he told party MLA Milind Narvekar, who was dispatched by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to the Surat hotel where Shinde is camping with 25 other MLAs since Monday night.

The chief minister made an attempt to defuse the tension by sending two of his confidants, including Narvekar, to meet Shinde and the other MLAs at Surat. Narvekar was accompanied by Sena leader Ravindra Phatak.

In a discussion with the two leaders, Shinde has demanded that the Shiv Sena must leave the MVA coalition, and then join hands with the BJP once again.

Uddhav’s confidants meet rebel Shinde

By rebelling against his own party, Shinde has endangered the survival of the ruling coalition. The two leaders sent by Thackeray held a detailed discussion for close to two hours with the rebel minister and MLAs, but left for Mumbai by road without revealing much to the media.

Shinde and his loyalist MLAs reached the hotel in Surat late on Monday, hours after the results of the MLC polls in Maharashtra were declared.

In the elections held for the 10 seats up for grabs, the BJP won all the five seats it had contested despite having votes to win four candidates apparently on the back of cross-voting by some MLAs of the MVA constituents. The NCP and Shiv Sena won two seats each contested by them. Another MVA ally, Congress, suffered a jolt as the party lost one of its two candidates to BJP’s fifth nominee in the MLC polls.

The MVA government came together as a coalition in 2019, but with Shinde’s rebellion there is a massive question mark on the stability of the dispensation that is two-and-a-half years old.

(With PTI inputs)

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