Eknath Shinde camp denies BJP role’s behind revolt in Shiv Sena

A meeting of the rebel MLAs begins in the presence of Eknath Shinde, at hotel in Guwahati on 25 June 2022ANI

Rebel MLA Deepak Kesarkar, who is a part of the Eknath Shinde camp which named its group ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb’ on Saturday, said that they are still with the Shiv Sena and claimed that they have a two-thirds majority.

The rebel MLA further demanded recognition for their faction and warned of going to court if it is not done and denied the role of the BJP behind their revolt.

Addressing a press conference virtually, Kesarkar said, “We are still in Shiv Sena, there is a misunderstanding that we have left the party. We’ve just separated our faction. We have a two-thirds majority to follow the path we wanted. Our new leader has been chosen by the majority. They didn’t have more than 16-17 MLAs.”

Notably, Eknath Shinde was unanimously elected as the leader of the group recently which is revolting against the Uddhav faction.

Eknath Shinde claims to have the support of 38 MLAs of the 56 Shiv Sena legislators, which is more than two-thirds of the party’s strength in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. It means that they can either leave and form another political party or merge with another without being disqualified from the state assembly.

According to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with the anti-defection law, any group of lawmakers can leave a party and form another or merge with another party without disqualification if they are together at least two-thirds of legislators of the party’s original strength.

Supporters of rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde gathered outside his residence in Thane on 25 June 2022

The rebel MLA refuted the speculations of the new group merging with any party and said that their faction will be given different recognition.

“There’s no need to merge, our faction will be given different recognition and we aren’t merging with any other party,” he said.

Kesarkar denied speaking against Uddhav Thackeray and said that they “respect” the chief minister.

“Recognition should be given to our faction, if it isn’t given, we will go to court and prove our existence and numbers. We have numbers, but we respect CM Uddhav Thackeray, we won’t speak against him. We must follow the path on which we fought Assembly elections,” he said.

“No party is paying for our expenses (of hotel accommodation), our leader Eknath Shinde called us and we came and stayed here (Guwahati hotel); will pay the expenses. BJP isn’t behind all of this,” the lawmaker added.

The Uddhav Thackeray faction recently submitted a plea before the Maharashtra Assembly deputy speaker to disqualify 12 rebel MLAs.

As rebels continue to camp in Guwahati, some of their offices were vandalised allegedly by Shiv Sena workers in Maharashtra.

Following this, Shinde on Saturday wrote to Uddhav Thackeray over the alleged ‘malicious’ withdrawal of security of family members of the 38 MLAs camping with him in the Guwahati hotel.

Rebel MLAs during a meeting with Eknath Shinde, at hotel in Guwahati on 25 June 2022

In his letter to Thackeray and state home minister Dilip Walse Patil, Shinde claimed that the security provided to the MLAs at their residence as well as to their family members as per the protocol has been illegally and unlawfully withdrawn, as an act of revenge.

“Needless to mention, this sinister move is another attempt to break our resolve and arm-twist us to give in to the demands of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress goons,” he said.

Eknath Shinde faction, earlier on Friday, gave notice of a no-confidence motion against deputy speaker Narhari Jhirwal after the Uddhav Thackeray faction submitted a plea before the deputy speaker to disqualify 12 rebel MLAs.

Shinde calls meeting of rebel Sena MLAs

Amid the political crisis in Maharashtra, rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has called a meeting of MLAs camping with him at a hotel in Assam’s Guwahati on Sunday to discuss the strategy ahead.

The political turbulence in Maharashtra was triggered by the faction war in Shiv Sena after Minister Eknath Shinde flew to Surat with some MLAs and then to Guwahati where he claims of having the support of 38 MLAs of the 55 Shiv Sena legislators.

Shiv Sena workers vandalised the office of Shrikant Shinde, son of Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, in Thane on 25 June 2022

According to sources, Maharashtra deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal has sent notices to the 16 Shiv Sena rebel MLAs. The MLAs have to be present in Mumbai on Monday for the hearing of disqualification.

Notably, Zirwal has earlier approved the appointment of Ajay Choudhary as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader, replacing Shinde, the state cabinet minister who rebelled against the Shiv Sena leadership.

Zirwal also turned down the Shinde camp’s suggestion to appoint rebel Shiv Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale as the chief whip of the legislature party in place of Sunil Prabhu.

Interestingly, the Shinde faction named their group as ‘Shiv Sena Balasaheb’.

The naming of the group after the name of the Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray attracted sharp reactions from the Uddhav faction as the chief minister said that those who left the party should not seek votes in the name of the party founder.

Earlier on Saturday, rebel MLA Chimanrao Patil on Saturday expressed dissatisfaction over Shiv Sena’s alliance with its “traditional rival” parties, Congress and NCP and said that they had urged chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to stitch a “natural alliance”.

The leader, however, added that there was no response from the chief minister which is why Eknath Shinde, who is leading the faction, “took a stand”.

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray arrives Shiv Sena Bhavan to attend national executive committee meeting, at Dadar in Mumbai on 25 June 2022

“We are traditionally the rivals of NCP and Congress, they are our primary challengers in constituencies. We requested CM Uddhav Thackeray that natural alliance should be done,” said Shiv Sena rebel MLA Chimanrao Patil in a video tweeted by Eknath Shinde.

Patil claimed that the faction has the support of two-thirds of the Shiv Sena MLAs along with 10 independents.

The Shiv Sena national executive meeting chaired by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray adopted six resolutions as the political crisis deepens in Maharashtra.

“We strongly condemn the treachery that a few Shiv Sena legislators have displayed and express that the party and its organisation is strongly standing behind party leader Uddhav Thackeray. The party gives all the rights to Thackeray to exercise control over the emerging scenario and to implement decisions required for the same,” the resolution read.

“The national executive expresses its pride in the work Uddhav Thackeray has done as the chief minister of Maharashtra and the fame that he has earned for his taking care of the Maharashtra populace during Covid,” read the second resolution adopted by the national executive.

According to another resolution, Shiv Sena and Bal Thackeray are two sides of the same coin which are inseparable. Hence, besides Shiv Sena, no one else can use Balasaheb’s name.

Another resolution said Shiv Sena has always stayed true to Hindutva, the idea of a united Maharashtra and Marathi Asmita.