Eyeing govt formation, Fadnavis likely to meet Maharashtra Governor today

MUMBAI: The BJP seems to be exploring the possibility of government formation in Maharashtra amid a crisis in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi ruling coalition due to the rebellion by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde. According to reports, led by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, the BJP may stake claim to form a government in the state today, said sources. If sources are to be believed, Fadnavis is likely to meet the state’s governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari on Thursday and hand him over the list of party MLAs and also apprise the latter of the possible assurance of support the party has received from the independent and non-BJP MLAs.

However, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister Raosaheb Patil Danve had on Wednesday said that the political crisis in Maharashtra was Shiv Sena`s internal matter and the BJP is not staking claim to form a government in the state. Danve, who met party leader Devendra Fadnavis, told the media that no Shiv Sena MLA is in touch with the party

The BJP is also expected to hold a meeting of all its MLAs to decide on the next course of action amid the current political crisis in the state. To prevent horse-trading and poaching, the saffron party is also keen to keep its flock of 106 MLAs and other non-BJP legislators together at a safe location.

Amid all this, state’s Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray vacated his official residence in south Mumbai and moved to the family home in suburban Bandra on Wednesday night, hours after offering to quit the top post amid a rebellion by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde. 

The CM moved out of ‘Varsha’, his official residence, for Matoshri, the private bungalow of the Thackeray family, amid high drama as the political crisis that has rocked his government after Shinde’s revolt two days ago, showed no signs of ebbing. 

Neelam Gorhe and Chandrakant Khaire were among party leaders present at ‘Varsha’ when Thackeray, who has tested positive for COVID-19, was leaving the official residence. Party workers raised slogans and showered petals on the CM as he left his official house along with his family members — wife Rashmi Thackeray, sons Aaditya, who is a Cabinet minister, and Tejas Thackeray at around 9.50 pm. 

He reached outside Matoshri at around 10.30 pm. However, it took another 40 minutes for the CM to cover a short distance from outside Matoshri to his residence as party workers had crowded the road. Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks stationed themselves from Malabar Hill, where Varsha is located, to Matoshri in Bandra. Carrying placards and party flags, workers raised the slogan of ‘Uddhav Thackeray Zindabad’ as some of them fought back tears.

The Sena president stepped out of his car at Worli, the Assembly constituency of his son and Tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray, and again near Matoshri and waived at party workers. Thackeray tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, an official from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said. The 61-year-old CM attended the weekly cabinet meeting virtually.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga filed a complaint against Thackeray for allegedly violating COVID-19-related protocols by meeting his supporters while heading to his personal residence from his official house, police said. 

Prior to leaving Varsha, Thackeray also met MLAs and MPs. Earlier, bags containing his personal belongings were seen being loaded in cars. During a ‘Facebook Live’ session in the evening, Thackeray had said he will be leaving ‘Varsha’ and residing at ‘Matoshri’. Thackeray, who also heads the Shiv Sena, had moved to ‘Varsha’ after becoming the chief minister in November 2019. 

However, Shiv Sena’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut asserted Thackeray will not resign following the rebellion by a section of party MLAs, and maintained the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) will prove its majority in the Assembly if required.

The NCP and the Congress are also part of the MVA.