Eknath Shinde, leader of an ongoing mutiny against the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra, claimed a victory on Monday after the Supreme Court gave the rebel Sena MLAs time until July 12 to respond to notices for their possible disqualification from assembly membership. The original deadline was 5.30 pm, Monday.
The deputy speaker had issued these notices to Mr Shinde and 15 other legislators after the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena sought action under the anti-defection law.
In a tweet in Marathi, Mr Shinde said, "This is a win for the Hindutva of Balasaheb Thackeray, Emperor of Hindus' Hearts; and for the ideas of Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb."
हा वंदनीय हिंदुहृदयसम्राट शिवसेनाप्रमुख बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांच्या हिंदुत्वाचा आणि धर्मवीर आनंद दिघे साहेबांच्या विचारांचा विजय..!#realshivsenawins— Eknath Shinde - एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) June 27, 2022
In that one sentence, Mr Shinde laid a claim to the legacy of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's father; and Anand Dighe, who was a senior Sena leader from Mr Shinde's stronghold of Thane.
The Shinde camp has cited Hindutva as the reason why the Shiv Sena must exit its alliance with the NCP and Congress, and get back into a tie-up with the BJP, its "natural ideological ally". Team Thackeray has said that's just an alibi dictated by the Centre's ruling BJP.
In the Supreme Court, Eknath Shinde's petition claimed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has lost the majority. It said 38 of 55 Shiv Sena legislators have "withdrawn support".
A group of citizens, meanwhile, filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court against Mr Shinde and other rebel Sena MLAs, accusing them of causing "political turmoil". The group asked the court to direct these leaders to return to the state and resume their duties. The Shinde faction has been staying at a hotel in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam.