A group of Maharashtra MLAs, led by dissident Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, arrived here on Wednesday morning by a charter aircraft and were taken to a luxury hotel on the outskirts of the city amid tight security. The MLAs were received at the airport by BJP MPs Pallab Lochan Das and Sushanta Borgohain Shinde, who initially refused to talk to mediapersons waiting outside the airport, later said he has ‘the support of 40 MLAs’.
The exact number of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs travelling in the flight could not be confirmed but the flight had 89 passengers, including onboard crew, sources said. The MLAs arrived here from Surat and were taken to the hotel in three buses of the Assam State Transport Corporation.
Earlier, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut claimed 14 to 15 Sena MLAs, including some ministers, are with Shinde in Gujarat’s Surat city. However, another party leader said the number could be 23.
The Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA, has 55 MLAs, followed by allies NCP (53) and the Congress (44) in the 288-assembly where the current simple majority mark is 144. Speculations are rife that Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was likely to meet the MLAs during the day though the BJP party or his office are yet to confirm the meeting.
Tight security has been imposed with a huge posse of police personnel posted in and around the hotel. The MLAs were taken to Surat from Mumbai on Tuesday and the decision to shift them to Guwahati was taken on security grounds, according to a BJP source.
This is perhaps for the first time that MLAs from a Western Indian state is being taken to a Northeastern state after their rebellion against the party leadership. The Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra is facing a crisis following the revolt by a section of its MLA led by Shinde.