Days ahead of Maharashtra cabinet expansion, Aaditya Thackeray, a member of Uddhav Thackeray camp, predicted a big change in the government starting with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. Mr Shinde, he said, has been "asked to resign", suggesting that Mr Shinde's chief ministerial chair may be in jeopardy after Ajit Pawar and eight other NCP MLAs joined his year-old state ministry. Ajit Pawar currently shares the Deputy Chief Minister post with BJP's Devendra Fadnavis in the government led by Mr Shinde.
"I have heard that Chief Minister (Eknath Shinde) has been asked to resign and there might be some change (in the government)," Aaditya Thackeray told the media.
Mr Thackeray's comments come amid reports that the BJP is sidelining Eknath Shinde group after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) rebel Ajit Pawar and his followers joined the government.
Recently, a senior leader in Shiv Sena (UBT) claimed that around 20 MLAs from Mr Shinde's group were in touch with his party since NCP leader Ajit Pawar joined the state government. "Since Ajit Pawar and other NCP leaders joined the government, 17-18 MLAs from the Shinde camp have contacted us," Sanjay Raut claimed
Mr Shinde, however, has maintained that he has no plans of stepping down and there is no revolt in the Shiv Sena over the NCP rebels.
"We are not resignation givers but takers. His leadership is to take everyone along and be patient. Yesterday, all the MLAs, MPs have reposed faith in Eknath Shinde... all this (reports of discontent) is being done to malign Eknath Shinde," Shiv Sena leader Uday Samant said.
The Shiv Sena leader, a member of the faction that broke away from the then Uddhav Thackeray-led outfit last year, said Ajit Pawar's move had cleared them of "gaddar" (traitor) and "khoke" (crore) taunts, referring to jibes that have beset the rebel camp them since they switched sides.
"Now it is clear that Ajit Pawar joining us means that last time, the last coalition (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress) was not working well," Mr Samant said.