With another Shiv Sena MLA Dilip Lande on Friday joining the rebel group, led by Eknath Shinde, the anti-MVA group got further boost. With 41 Shiv Sena and 9 independent MLAs on his side, Shinde has practically put Uddhav Thackrey-led Shiv Sena into an existential crisis.
In another day full of political drama, Lande, Shiv Sena MLA from Chadivali left Mumbai to join the rebel faction led by Eknath Shinde in Guwahati. A day before, three legislators had arrived in Guwahati, including Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse, MLA Sanjay Rathore and MLC Ravindra Phatak. Ironically, Phatak is said to be a confidant of the Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray and had been sent to Guwahati, along with Milind Narvekar, as emissary to negotiate with Shinde to resolve the crisis.
With Lande turning a turncoat, the ranks of rebel Shiv Sena legislators have swelled to 50, Shinde has usurped the legacy that Bal Thackeray had left in the hands of his son Udhav. The decimation of Maharashtra’s once most powerful first political family is almost complete.
The day saw a flurry of activity, with the Shiv Sena faction led by Uddhav seeking disqualification of 12 rebel MLAs from the House. The Chief Minister on Friday moved a petition with the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra state Assembly Narhari Zirwal and sought to cancel the membership of 12 rebel MLAs including Eknath Shinde for “not attending” the legislative party meeting held on Wednesday. Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu had issued a letter to all party MLAs directing them to attend the meeting that evening.
Hitting back at the Shiv Sena after the party on Thursday sought the disqualification of 12 rebel MLAs including Shinde, the rebel leader turned to Twitter. “You cannot scare us by giving the names of 12 MLAs for disqualification because we are followers of the Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. We know the law, so we do not pay heed to threats,” said Shinde in his tweet. “We know your ways and the law too! According to Schedule 10 of the Constitution, the whip is
used for assembly work, not for meetings,” he added.
Apart from Shinde, Shiv Sena has sought disqualification of Prakash Surve, Tanaji Sawant, Mahesh Shinde, Abdul Sattar, Sandeep Bhumare, Bharat Gogawale, Sanjay Shirsat, Yamini Yadhav, Anil Babar, Balaji Devdas and Lata Chaudhari. Speaking to The Daily Guardian Review, rebel MLA Gogawale said that their disqualification would be illegal. “We have numbers they don’t have. Currently, we have 41 Shiv Sainik and 9 Independent MLAs, among which 9 are ministers,” said unruffled Gogawale.
Responding to the call for their disqualification Shinde had on Wednesday written to the Deputy Speaker Zirwal regarding the reaffirmation of his appointment as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party. The letter had the signatures of 37 Shiv Sena MLAs and a copy of the letter was been sent to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Secretary to the Legislative Council Rajendra Bhagwat.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Speaker Zirwal approved the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislative Party Leader, replacing Shinde, and Sunil Prabhu as Chief Whip, even as the senior Shiv Sena leader was busy meeting NCP leader Sharad Pawar.
Speaking to the media after the meeting was over, Rajya Sabha MP Raut said that they were confident of sailing through the floor test. “We are not going to accept defeat. We are ready for the floor test and will win. They have taken a wrong step. The time is over now. We had asked them to come back to Mumbai but they didn’t listen. Now, we challenge them to come back,” said Raut.