Amid desertions and shows of force, no end in sight for Maharashtra’s political stalemate
As rebel lawmakers led by Eknath Shinde moved closer to officially recognizing their group and withdrawing the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son and his close aides issued veiled threats to the mutineers, further deepening the political crisis in Maharashtra.
The Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress dispensation contemplates action against rebels and ministers and deals with them harshly, which may include disqualification, suspension from the party, and removal from their portfolios.
Latest reports from Guwahati and New Delhi indicate that the process of disqualification of Shinde and 15 MPs by Vice President Narhari Zirwal has been challenged in the Supreme Court. The rebels are also planning to meet Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari but threats have put them on notice.
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The rebel camp grew further with Minister of Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant joining Shinde in Guwahati. A total of 50 MPs, including rebels and independents from the Shiv Sena and those from smaller parties, are now present in Guwahati.
Back in Mumbai, state tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray and Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut threatened MPs.
“The road from the airport to Vidhan Bhavan passes through Worli. It’s good that the rebels are gone. There is no place for traitors in the party. When these MPs come to the Assembly, they should have the courage to see in our eyes and tell us what we have not done for them,” said Aaditya, the chairman of Yuva Sena, which represents the seat of Worli, in the heart of Marathi.
Assessing a meeting of party workers, Raut said: “Their souls are dead. 40 bodies will arrive from Guwahati and they will be sent directly for autopsy.
“Shiv Sena has only one father and he is one and only Balasaheb Thackeray. You don’t change your father again and again – in Surat, Guwahati, Vadodara and New Delhi please come from Guwahati and come to Chowpatty.”Why take the name Balasaheb…if you have guts, resign, contest the election again,” Raut said, adding that there are reports that some lawmakers are are confronted at the Guwahati Hotel.
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The Rajya Sabha member also tweeted: “Kab tak chupuge Guwahati me… aana hi padega Mumbai Chowpatty me”. (How long will you hide in Guwahati? Sooner or later you will have to return to Mumbai Chowpatty.)
Meanwhile, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar held meetings with key leaders even as the Shiv Sena considered action against the rebels. Congress Legislative Party Leader and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat, Public Works Minister Ashok Chavan, Shiv Sena Member Rajya Sabha Anil Desai and State Transport Minister Anil Parab visited Pawar’s Silver Oak Bungalow .
The NCP Supremo and Chief Architect of the MVA was of the view that the rebels should be forcibly returned to Mumbai and a ground test should be sought. Later in New Delhi, he told reporters he would support Thackeray until the last minute. “The Shiv Sena I know would not stomach such a rebellion,” he said.
“Eknath Shinde and other MPs were there with the NCP in government. They haven’t had any problems for the past two and a half years. Why is this only happening today? It’s just an excuse,” he said, pointing to the role of the BJP.
The Shiv Sena has also sought the legal advice of Senior Counsel Devdutt Kamat, who has met with Mumbai South MP Arvind Sawant.
“A Legislative Party is not supreme and the majority in the Legislative Party is meaningless…it is formed from the parent party. are likely to be disqualified,” Kamat said, adding that the chief minister can ask the governor to take a ground test.