Rebel Sena leader Shinde says he has support of a ‘national party’

Days after his revolt against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, rebel leader Eknath Shinde on Thursday accepted that the entire operation is supported by a “national party”, without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In yet another late night development in the unfolding political drama, Shiv Sena legislative group leader Ajay Chaudhari moved petitions in front of the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly to disqualify 12 rebel MLAs from Mr. Shinde’s group.

The 12 MLAs are Mr. Shinde himself, Tanaji Sawant, Balaji Kinikar, Anil Babar, Bharat Gogawale, Prakash Surve, Mahesh Shinde, Abdul Sattar, Yamini Jadhav, Sandipan Bhumre, Sanjay Shirsat and Lata Sonawane. According to sources, the Sena leadership does not think they will ever return to the party’s fold now.

The Shiv Sena on Wednesday removed Mr. Shinde and appointed Ajay Chaudhary as its legislative party leader, to which the rebel group has objected, claiming majority.

Grabbing the opportunity presented by Mr. Shinde’s claim of support of a “national party”, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar advised the rebels that no BJP leader would come to guide them when they arrived to prove majority in Mumbai.

On Thursday evening, the rebel group claimed that it had sent another letter to the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, Narhari Zirwal, with the signatures of 42 MLAs claiming Mr. Shinde was the Shiv Sena’s legislative party leader. On Wednesday, the rebel group had sent a letter with the signatures of 34 MLAs.

But when asked, Mr. Zirwal’s office said no new letter has been received. “The group leader is decided based on the party chief’s letter and I have received a letter from Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray naming [Ajay] Chaudhary as the legislative party leader, which I have accepted, ”Mr. Zirwal said.

The video released by Mr. Shinde’s aides on Thursday evening shows him addressing the rebel group of MLAs, and boasting of the support of a “national party”. He is seen saying: “No matter what happens, we will win. As you said, that is a national party, a superpower. Pakistan… you know what happened. They have told me, that the decision taken by us is historic. You have all the strength of ours. If you need anything, we will not let you down. This will be experienced whenever we need any help. ” He did not name any party.

Minutes later, Mr. Pawar held a press conference at which he read out the names of national parties in the country and asked who other than the BJP could be behind this. “The Maharashtra Assembly is where [the State] The government’s majority will be decided after a floor test and not Guwahati [where the rebel group is camping]. I have seen such a condition many times before and my assessment is that the government will prove majority. I do not think that the Assam BJP or local leaders would be able to come to guide them [the rebel MLAs] for this, ”he said.

This is the first time in three days that Mr. Pawar has held a press conference on the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra. Earlier, he held a meeting of NCP leaders, where the party decided to stand firmly with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Mr. Shinde’s group has claimed the support of 46 MLAs, out of which 37 are Shiv Sena MLAs and nine are Independents.

When pointed out that the rebel MLAs’ grievances ranged from commitment to Hindutva to the allocation of funds, Mr. Pawar scoffed: “We have been in power for two-and-a-half years. Where was this Hindutva issue then? Funds are given to all and Finance Minister [Ajit Pawar] has clarified that. I think these are nothing but excuses being used by them. “

Maharashtra State Congress president Nana Patole accused the BJP of using Central agencies to destabilize Opposition-ruled state governments across the country and that the same was happening in Maharashtra.

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