New Delhi: As the rift within Shiv Sena grows, all 37 rebel MLAs camping in Guwahati on Thursday (June 23) declared Eknath Shinde as their group leader in the legislature in a letter to Maharashtra Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal. This comes as the Deputy Speaker had approved Ajay Chaudhary as the group leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party, replacing rebel minister Eknath Shinde. The influential MLA sent a letter to Zirwal, with the signatures of 37 dissident Shiv Sena MLAs, who are camping in Guwahati with him. Further, the letter mentioned that Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale has been appointed as chief whip of the legislature party in place of Sunil Prabhu.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena sought the disqualification of 12 rebel MLAs including Shinde for “not attending” the legislative party meeting held on Wednesday. The faction has filed a petition before the Deputy Speaker of the state assembly against the rebels. The Shiv Sena workers loyal to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier in the day had demanded action against those who failed to participate in the 5 pm meeting. Reacting to the development, Shinde wrote on 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.”
Meanwhile, in an apparent bid to pacify the dissidents, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said his party is open to mulling leaving Maharashtra’s ruling alliance MVA. In addition, he said the rebel MLAs camping in Assam should return and discuss their grievances with CM Thackeray. “The rebels who are out of Mumbai have raised the issue of Hindutva. If all these MLAs feel that Shiv Sena should walk out of the MVA, show guts to come back to Mumbai. You say you have issues only with the government and also say that you are true Shiv Sainiks…Your demand will be considered. But come and talk with Uddhav Thackeray,” PTI quoted Raut as saying. While the coalition allies NCP and the Congress have promised support to Shiv Sena and asserted the MVA’s majority can only be determined in the Maharashtra Assembly and not outside.
(With agency inputs)