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

by mcdix

Days after his uprising against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, rebel leader Eknath Shinde on Thursday accepted that the entire operation was supported by a “national party”, without mentioning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In yet another overnight development in the unfolding political drama, the leader of Shiv Sena’s legislative faction, Ajay Chaudhari, moved petitions to the vice-chairman of the Maharashtra assembly to request that 12 rebel MLAs from Mr. Shinde to disqualify.

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 it will return to the party’s fold. The Shiv Sena on Wednesday removed Mr. Shinde and appointed Ajay Chaudhary as leader of the legislative party, which the rebel group has objected to and claims a majority.

Rebel Sena leader Shinde says

Sharad Pawar, the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), who seized the opportunity presented by Mr. Shinde’s claim to the support of a “national party”, advised the rebels that no BJP leader would come to attack them; when they arrived to prove the majority in Mumbai. On Thursday evening, the rebel group claimed it had sent another letter to the deputy chairman of the Maharashtra assembly, Narhari Zirwal, with the signatures of 42 MLAs claiming that Mr. Shinde was the leader of the Shiv Sena legislative party. On Wednesday, the rebel group sent a letter with the signatures of 34 MLAs.

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

The video was taken Thursday night. Mr, Shinde is seen addressing the MLA rebel group and bragging about the support of a “national party”. He is seen saying, “Whatever happens, we will win. As you said, that’s a national party, a superpower. Pakistan… you know what happened. They have told me that the decision we have made is historic. You have all the strength from us. If you need anything, we won’t let you down. This will be experienced when we need help.” He did not name a party.

Minutes later, Mr. Pawar held a press conference where he read the names of national parties in the country and asked who else but the BJP could be behind this. “The Maharashtra Assembly is true [the State] the majority of the government is decided after a floor test and not Guwahati [where the rebel group is camping]†. I have seen such a situation many times before, and I estimate the government will prove the majority. I don’t think the Assam BJP or local leaders could come and 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. He previously held a meeting of NCP leaders, where the party decided to stand firmly behind Prime Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Mr. Shinde’s group has claimed the support of 46 MLAs, including 37 Shiv Sena MLAs and nine Independents.

When pointed out that the rebel MLA’s grievances ranged from commitment to Hindutva to the allocation of funds, Mr. Pawar: “We have been in power for two and a half years. Funds are given to everyone, and finance minister [Ajit Pawar] has clarified that. I think these are nothing but excuses they use.” So, where was this Hindutva issue? Maharashtra State Congress president Nana Patole accused the BJP of using central agencies to destabilize opposition-ruled state governments across the country, and the same has happened in Maharashtra.

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