Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena faction has accused the party's group led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde of "floating a fake narrative to justify their anti-party stand". Team Thackeray made the allegations in its reply to the Supreme Court today ahead of a crucial hearing on the battle for the Maharashtra party's control.
"They created a narrative that voters are angry about the alliance of Shiv Sena with NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and Congress," Team Thackeray said in its response to the Supreme Court. "The reality is that these MLAs remained ministers in the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance for two and a half years, but they never objected to it," it said.
"All events that followed, including the floor test and the appointment of Shinde as new Chief Minister are fruit of a poisonous tree, the seeds of which were unashamedly sown in the Supreme Court by the delinquent MLAs," Team Thackeray said.
"The rebel MLAs approached the Election Commission with claims of 'real Sena' in order to cover up their anti-party activities. It is implausible as to why the rebel MLAs had to leave Maharashtra and go to BJP-ruled Gujarat and subsequently sit on BJP's lap in Assam if they had the backing of their party cadre," Team Thackeray said, adding, "Needless to say that in Gujarat and Assam, there was no Shiv Sena cadre, only the BJP cadre which was providing full logistical support to the MLAs."
The former Chief Minister's faction said the camp led by Mr Shinde, who enjoys the BJP's support, calls the BJP an old ally of Shiv Sena, but the BJP never gave equal status to Shiv Sena.
"It was in the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government that the leader of Shiv Sena got the Chief Minister's post. From the day the government came to power, these MLAs always took advantage of it. Never before did they raise the issue of displeasure among voters and workers," Team Thackeray said, adding, "If they were so worried about being a part of this government they would not have joined the cabinet from day one."
Mr Thackeray's team requested the Supreme Court to stop the Election Commission from deciding on who has control of the party till a decision is taken on disqualifying MLAs who had revolted against Mr Thackeray.
The Election Commission has told both the Sena groups to give documentary evidence and written statements by August 8 to prove who represents the Maharashtra party. Only after that the Election Commission will hear the matter.
Team Thackeray says the Election Commission can't decide which group represents the Shiv Sena till there is clarity on the disqualification of rebel Sena MLAs - who hopped from Gujarat to Assam to Goa in a political operation last month - and dethroned Mr Thackeray.
In a letter to the constitutional body responsible for allotting party symbols and holding elections, Team Shinde claimed it has the support of 40 out of 55 MLAs and 12 out of 18 Lok Sabha MPs.