Shinde camp grows as more Shiv Sena rebel MLAs arrive at Assam hotel

Prior to the release of the resolution, two more MLAs were believed to have been part of the rebel camp but were missing from the list of signatories: Uday Singh Rajput and Dilip Lande.
Maharashtra Shiv Sena MLA Dadaji Bhuse, MLA Sanjay Rathod and MLC Ravindra Phatak with Eknath Shinde, at Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati, on Thursday. (ANI)
Updated on Jun 24, 2022 03:11 AM IST
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By, Guwahati:

The Shiv Sena faction camping in Guwahati appeared to reach the critical mass required to wrest control from Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray after seven more members of legislative assembly reached Assam’s capital city, briefly taking the breakaway’s strength to 39 on Thursday before two MLAs appeared to have left the hotel.

The rebellion led by Eknath Shinde needs at least 37 MLAs to avoid being disqualified under the anti-defection law if they want to breakaway, and according to a resolution adopted by the camp and released late on Thursday, the tally seemed to have been met: there were 37 signatures.

Prior to the release of the resolution, two more MLAs were believed to have been part of the rebel camp but were missing from the list of signatories: Uday Singh Rajput and Dilip Lande.

Among those who arrived at the hotel were MLA Deepak Kesarkar, who was with Thackeray family scion Aaditya Thackeray on Tuesday, and member of legislative council Ravindra Phatak, who was part of a two-member delegation sent by the Maharashtra CM earlier this week to negotiate with Shinde when the rebellion was camping in Gujarat. Phatak’s presence, however, is not relevant for the assembly numbers.

But Thursday’s arrival also included MLA Dadaji Bhuse, the state’s agriculture minister, and MLA Sanjay Rathod who, like the ones before, followed a similar route – through chartered flights via Gujarat’s Surat.

In a show of strength, Shinde and his supporters posed for photos and videos inside the hotel, with some raising the slogan: ‘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 outside, but Shinde issued new tweets aimed at Uddhav Thackeray’s attempts on Thursday to begin disqualification proceedings against 12 of the defectors.

“Who are you trying to scare? We know your make-up and the law too! According to the 10th Schedule to the Constitution (Schedule), the whip is for assembly work, not for meetings. There are numerous Supreme Court decisions in this regard,” he wrote in a tweet in Marathi, adding: “You can’t scare us by applying for action against 12 MLAs. Because we are the real Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainik of the venerable Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray”.

Party insiders maintained more MLAs were on their way to Guwahati and to the hotel, which has become the epicentre of the most important national political drama at present.

In the afternoon, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma reached the hotel, with people aware of the matter saying he arrived to meet Shinde – although this could not be confirmed. Sangma’s National Peoples’ Party is part of NDA in Centre and BJP is part of the government in Meghalaya.

Outside, around 100 Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers and leaders staged a dharna. “Stop MLA trading. Provide relief to flood affected people,” read the placards carried by the protesters. “It’s a shameful episode in Assam’s political history that our state has become the playground of horse-trading of legislators. The BJP-led government in Assam should have focussed on providing relief to the state’s flood affected. But instead of doing that chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and other BJP leaders are indulging in buying and selling of MLAs from another state,” TMC state unit chief Ripun Bora said.


    Utpal is an assistant editor based in Guwahati. He covers all eight states of North-East and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times .

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