Mumbai: As the Maharashtra political crisis continued for the 4th day, the rebels’ group led by Minister Eknath Shinde proclaimed the support of 37 MLAs leaving the Shiv Sena with 17 legislators.
The rebels group submitted its claimed list to Deputy Speaker of Legislative Assembly Narhari Zirwal, late on Thursday, with the balance left with the Sena.
The rebels list also attached two resolutions stating that Shinde continues to be the chief of Shiv Sena Legislative Party, and appointed MLA Bharat Gogavale as the new Chief Whip, as the group contended its support has increased today to 41 Sena MLAs, plus a dozen independents and smaller parties today (June 24).
On the Sena side, the MLAs are: Aaditya Thackeray, Ajay Chaudhri, Sunil Prabhu, Ramesh Korgaonkar, Bhaskar Jadhav, Nitin Deshmukh, Vaibhav Naik, Kailash Patil, Sanjay Potnis, Rahul Patil, Prakash Fatarpekar, Santosh Bangar, Sunil Raut, Ravindra Waikar, Uday Samant, Rajan Salvi, and Udaysinh Rajput.
One MLA — Dilip Mama Lande — who was with the Sena till this morning, abruptly changed sides and joined the rebels in Guwahati.
The development came shoulder-to-shoulder with the Shiv Sena in Mumbai submitting a list of 16 rebel MLAs including Shinde, to Zirwal, demanding they should be disqualified, late on Wednesday.
Party MP Arvind Sawant said that the disqualification has been sought for flouting the Sena’s Whip to attend a meeting of party legislators held on Wednesday.
Those who did not attend that meeting included: Eknath Shinde, Tanaji Sawant, Prakash Surve, Sandipan Bhumre, Bharat Gogavale, Balaji Kinikar, Anil Babar, Lata Sonwane, Yamini Jadhav, Sanjay Shirsat, Mahesh Shinde and Abdul Sattar, and a few other names were added later on Friday.
This move came after the Sena on Tuesday removed Shinde as the Shiv Sena Legislative Party Leader and replaced him with Ajay Chaudhri, which the Dy. Speaker has accepted but the rebels group has cried foul.
Dismissing the Sena decision, Shinde said in Guwahati on Friday that the move is “illegal” and intended to scare the legislators — even as Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar entered the battle arena to save the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
“We are not frightened by all this. We know what they are doing and we also are aware of the laws and procedures. Let them send any number of letters or notices, we are not bothered,” declared Shinde, speaking to the media.
Sena MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut said on Friday that now the legal battle has begun with the plea to the Dy. Speaker Zirwal to disqualify the 12 legislators as democracy runs on majority figures “which can change anytime”.
“We will fight it out… Now Sharad Pawar has taken the lead and we shall follow his strategy,” he added.
“So far, the support claimed by the rebels is only on paper. They have not yet come to Mumbai and the numbers will change after they return. Those who have gone will have to repent,” Raut cautioned.
Meanwhile, Shinde is taking a meeting of his group in the Guwahati hotel where they have pitched a tent, with more Sena legislators trickling in and unconfirmed reports of around 4 Sena MPs also jumping into his boat.
In Mumbai, the MVA NCP-Congress have thrown their full weight behind Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and will help him fight the crisis till the end.
Congress President Nana Patole reiterated that the BJP is using threats of central investigative agencies to browbeat the MLAs and topple the MVA government but they would not succeed in their venture.
Earlier, in a bid to mollify the rebels, Thackeray offered to quit as Chief Minister and also as party chief, and yesterday (June 23) expressed willingness to leave the MVA provided the mutineers returned to Mumbai “in 24 hours” (by Friday evening) to hammer out their differences with the party leadership – but the Shinde group has spurned the overtures.