Maha potboiler: Sena's offer to rebels followed by dismissal plea, allies back CM

  • Maharashtra political crisis: Rebel MLAs named Eknath Shinde as their leader and authorised him to take further decisions on their behalf. A video of Shinde showed the cabinet minister saying a "national party" has termed their revolt as "historic" and assured to provide all help to them.
Shiv Sena supremo and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray with NCP boss Sharad Pawar. 
Updated on Jun 24, 2022 02:52 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

The Shiv Sena on Thursday made a fresh offer to quell the rebellion orchestrated by disgruntled party lawmaker Eknath Shinde and said it is open to consider quitting the ruling coalition in Maharashtra if the rebels MLAs camping in Assam return within a day and discuss their grievances with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Soon after, Thackeray's coalition allies NCP and the Congress vowed their support to the Sena supremo and added that ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi's (MVA) can prove its majority only in the Assembly and not outside. Both of the Sena's allies have said they do not have a problem if the party forges an alliance with anyone.

The latest crisis, which erupted earlier this week following Shinde's late-night escapade with a group of MLAs to BJP-ruled Gujarat, showed no signs of abating as another day of hectic activities spanning Mumbai, Surat and faraway Guwahati, where Shinde and his team are currently camping, passed.

In a late-night development, the Sena said it has sought the disqualification of 12 legislators, including Shinde. Sena MP Arvind Sawant, “This is a legal battle as well as a political fight now.” The other rebel MLAs named in the list are Sanjay Shirsat, Sandipan Bhumre, Tanaji Sawant, Bharat Gogawale, Abdul Sattar, Lata Sonawane, Yamini Jadhav, Prakash Surve, Anil Babar, Balaji Kinnikar and Mahesh Shinde.

Meanwhile, six more MLAs and an MLC from Maharashtra left Surat on a chartered flight to Guwahati, where party rebels are holed up at a luxury hotel.

Among those who joined the rebel camp included Sena MLA Dadaji Bhuse who was so far reportedly undecided on his next move. The others were MLA Sanjay Rathod and MLC Ravindra Phatak.

Phatak was believed to be a close associate of the chief minister and was flown to Surat as an emissary where rebel MLAs were initially camping, before switching camps. According to reports, more than 37 MLAs of the Shiv Sena are present with Shinde at the hotel in Guwahati.

Earlier in the day, Sena MP and Thackeray's trusted aide Sanjay Raut said the party is ready to consider leaving the MVA headed by it, a demand put forward by Shinde who has dubbed the three-party bloc as an "unnatural" alliance.

Also read | Lists of lawmakers in Uddhav vs Shinde camps out

"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 within 24 hours and discuss the issue with CM Uddhav Thackeray. Your demand will be considered positively. Don't write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp," Raut told reporters.

Later, in a tweet in Marathi, wrote, "Why wander aimlessly. The doors are open and issues can be resolved amicably through talks. Let's take a decision with self-respect instead of accepting slavery," the Rajya Sabha MP said.

Son after, Sena's ruling allies – Congress and NCP -- moved quickly, held separate meetings and sought to downplay the remarks, while declaring their support to the alliance.

Asked about Raut's comments, NCP president Sharad Pawar said they were made to persuade dissident MLAs to come back to Mumbai from Guwahati and put forward their grievances before the party leadership.

Deputy chief minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar said the NCP, the second largest MVA constituent, will do all it can to save the ruling alliance and backed Thackeray, whose government has been pushed to the brink in the wake of the rebellion.

Also read | 'Situation will change once…': Sharad Pawar on Maharashtra political crisis

The Congress, too, came out in support of the Shiv Sena-led alliance, which came to power in November 2019. Maharashtra PWD minister Ashok Chavan of the Congress said his party's support to the MVA will continue and said the Assembly, and not hotels, was the appropriate place to decide if a government was in a majority or minority. Others too spoke on similar lines.

Asked whether the MVA was ready for a floor test, Chavan said a decision in this regard will have to be taken by the three allies who constitute the ruling alliance. Maharashtra Congress chief Nana Patole said his party will even back Thackeray from “outside” if required.

In Guwahati, rebel legislators named Shinde as their group leader and authorised him to take further decisions on their behalf. A video of Shinde addressing the legislators at a Guwahati hotel was released by his office in Mumbai and it showed the cabinet minister saying a "national party" has termed their revolt as "historic" and assured to provide all help to them.

In the video, Shinde is seen saying, "Our worries and happiness are the same. We are united and victory will be ours. There is a national party, a 'mahashakti'...you know they vanquished Pakistan. That party has said that we have taken a historic decision and assured to provide all help."

Also read | 'Send Maharashtra MLAs to Bengal': Mamata Banerjee after TMC protest in Guwahati

Amid the game of numbers, Shinde and all his supporters posed for a group photo inside the hotel on Thursday afternoon with the MLAs shouting, ‘Shinde tum aage badho, hum tumhare saath hai’ (Shinde you move ahead, we are with you). There was no interaction with the media personnel present.

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress held a massive protest outside the luxury hotel in Guwahati where dissident Shiv Sena MLAs are camping. Assam TMC president Ripun Bora said when Assam is reeling under one of the worst floods ever, the BJP is engaged in "horse-trading" and trying to topple a democratically elected government. "Today, the Assam CM is trying to dismantle the democratically elected Maharashtra government. Himanta Biswa Sarma (the CM) has made Assam a market for MLA trading. This horse-trading must stop," he said. Bora claimed a similar "horse-trading" will happen against Sarma and he will have to face the music one day.

TMC workers raised slogans like 'Shiv Sena Go Back' and 'Save Democracy' as they jostled with the security forces outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Gotanagar area of Guwahati.

(Wit)

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Sunday, June 26, 2022