Eknath Shinde landed in BJP-ruled Assam, claims 40+ Sena MLAs with him
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde along with other party MLAs arrived in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam early Wednesday morning. They were received by BJP leaders Sushanta Borgohain and Pallab Lochan Das at the airport.
Before boarding the flight, Shinde said he hadn’t revolted against the party. He said the rebel MLAs want the Sena to join an alliance with BJP. “My and Sena MLAs wish is that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray should form a government in alliance with the BJP, I have not quit the party,” he said.
As political turmoil grapples the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, disgruntled leader Eknath Shinde reiterated his demand that Shiv Sena should form an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Eknath Shinde, who is leading the Shiv Sena rebels, on Tuesday held a five-minute meeting with the Shiv Sena leader and Uddhav Thackeray’s close aide Milind Narvekar at Le Meridien hotel in Surat over the current Maharashtra political crisis. Shinde demanded that Shiv Sena must break the MVA alliance with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party as it has weakened the party’s ‘Hindutva’ ideology. He added that the only way to get the Hindutva ideology back is by joining hands with BJP. Other rebel MLAs present in Surat also stand firm with Shinde’s demand.
He added that he held talks with Uddhav Thackeray and chanted the slogan “Jai Maharashtra and Garv Se Kaho Hum Hindu Hai”.
Eknath Shinde claimed he has support of 40 of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs and six Independents. Shinde needs support of 37 MLAs to ensure he doesn’t face disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law. Shinde said he is not breaking away from Shiv Sena and the MLAs will carry forward Balasaheb Thackery’s ‘Hindutva’ ideology. “We have not left Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and will not leave it. We believe in Hindutva,” he said.
Before leaving for Assam, Eknath Shinde and other party MLAs had been camping in a Surat hotel in Gujarat — another BJP-ruled state. The move to shift them to Guwahati came shortly after his telephonic conversation with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Uddhav Thackeray had asked Eknath Shinde to reconsider and return to the party. Shinde had demanded that the Sena restore its alliance with the BJP and jointly rule the state, sources said. Reports suggest Shiv Sena MLAs were moved to Guwahati by the BJP to avoid any further confrontation with Sena leaders. Several BJP leaders also met Eknath Shinde at the Surat hotel as speculation is rife that the rebel Shiv Sena leader along with other MLAs might join the BJP.
As the government stands deep in crisis, Shiv Sena has housed its remaining MLAs in different hotels in Mumbai. Shinde was sacked as party’s Chief Whip on Tuesday afternoon, he retaliated by dropping Shiv Sena from his Twitter bio.