The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra is on the brink of collapse as Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde has the support of 37 MLAs, who are currently camping with him in Guwahati. With the magic figure of 37, Shinde is comfortably placed to dodge the anti-defection law and stake claim to form the government with support from the BJP.
Besides these 37 MLAs, Shinde also has the support of nine Independent legislators, who are staying in the same Guwahati hotel. Speaking to News18 on Thursday, Shinde said the rebel camp had the numbers and there was no question of going back on their decision.
The rebel leader also seemed confident that more people would join his camp. “You see people are coming and we will all sit together and decide what to do. Everyone’s opinion will be sought and then we will move forward. It’s not my decision but everybody’s,” he said. Sources also said that Shinde is preparing paperwork to claim the Shiv Sena party symbol.
On Thursday, six MLAs flew to Surat and were later flown to Guwahati in Assam in two chartered flights. Shiv Sena MLC Ravindra Phatak also reached Guwahati from Surat. Phatak was one of the emissaries sent by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday to hold discussions with Shinde and other rebel MLAs in Surat to work out a solution to the crisis.
Phatak along with Shiv Sena MLAs – Dadaji Bhuse and Sanjay Rathod – arrived in Guwahati in a chartered flight from Surat on Thursday night. Bhuse is the agriculture minister in the MVA government.
In the morning, four other MLAs – Mangesh Kudalkar, Sada Sarvankar, Ashish Jaiswal and Deepak Keskar – reached Assam in another chartered plane, which they boarded from the Surat. On Wednesday, four MLAs from Maharashtra, including two independents, had arrived in Surat and were then taken to Assam in a chartered flight.
Plea filed to cancel membership of Sena rebels
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena has filed a plea with the Maharashtra Deputy Assembly Speaker, seeking disqualification of the rebel MLAs, including Shinde. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, speaking to CNN-News18, said, “Notice was served to the MLAs to attend the June 22 (legislature party) meeting, but they did not turn up. Disciplinary action will be taken against them.”
Sawant said the party has asked the deputy assembly speaker to take action against 12 rebel MLAs. “We have asked the deputy speaker to cancel their membership. Will serve notice to others as well,” he added.
Allies pledge support
Earlier on Thursday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said they are ready to quit the Maha Vikas Aghadi government if the rebel MLAs return to Mumbai. Sena ally NCP president Sharad Pawar reiterated today that Uddhav will have all the support from his party and that his government will continue. “The fate of the MVA government will be decided in the Assembly, not in Guwahati (where the rebels are camping). The MVA will prove its majority on the floor of the House,” Pawar said. Congress, the third MVA constituent, also pledged support to Shiv Sena.
CM Thackeray had on Wednesday, in an impassioned speech, offered to quit as CM amid the rebellion and later also vacated his official residence, Varsha, in south Mumbai and moved to Matoshree, his family home in suburban Bandra.
On paper, the Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA 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 task for the Uddhav camp to prove its majority on the floor of the House.
(With PTI inputs)