The Shiv Sena's move to file disqualification notices for 12 MLAs drew a stinging response from rebel Eknath Shinde. In a series of tweets, the leader who is projecting his faction as the real Shiv Sena, questioned whom the Sena is "trying to scare". Mr Shinde and his son are on the list of 12.
"Who are you trying to scare? We know your make-up and the law too! According to the 10th Schedule to the Constitution (Schedule) the whip is for assembly work, not for meeting. There are numerous Supreme Court decisions in this regard," read a rough translation of the first of his three tweets in Marathi.
"You can't scare us by applying for action against 12 MLAs. Because we are the real Shiv Sena and Shiv Sainik of the venerable Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray," read the second tweet.
Yesterday, the Sena had issued an ultimatum to the rebels, saying inability to attend a 5 pm meet called by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray at his official residence "Varsha" will invoke disqualification.
The power to disqualify any MLA lies with the Speaker and not the party. With the rebels skipping the legislature party meet - which was physically not possible since they were holed up at a hotel in Guwahati -- the Sena filed the complaint with the Deputy Speaker and asked him to initiate disqualification proceedings under Anti-Defection law citing anti-party activities.
Mr Shinde has apparently reached the critical number of 37 Sena MLAs required to split the party in the assembly without tripping on the anti-defection law.
The Sena's application was a deterrence measure that is expected to give it more time, since the Deputy Speaker has to address a disqualification application from the Chief Minister before any application from the Shinde camp.
It will also give the Sena a numerical advantage in the Assembly, since the disqualification of the MLAs will bring down the majority mark, which stands at 144 in the 287-member house.
The new majority mark will be 138 and with 12 MLAs down, the ruling coalition's strength will be 140 - down from 152.