Newly-appointed Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will hold a strategy meet with BJP MLAs in the state this evening as Team Thackeray continues the fight back, issuing directions to their MLAs to be present for the crucial election for the Assembly Speakers' post on Sunday. The election is crucial as the Speaker will decide on the no trust vote against the Shinde camp on Monday.
Team Shinde has fielded first-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Rahul Narvekar as their candidate for the Speakers' post. He will compete against Sena MLA Rajan Salvi, the joint candidate of the Maha Vikas Aghadi which includes the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena.
"We have filed the nomination of Shiv Sena MLA Rajan Salvi. Congress had the first claim but we sat down with Shiv Sena and NCP and this decision was taken together," Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat said.
Apart from the test of strength in Maharashtra Assembly, Monday is likely to witness high-voltage action in the Supreme Court where Team Thackeray has filed petitions seeking to disqualify 16 Sena rebels, including Mr Shinde. Another petition by the new Chief Minister's camp challenging the disqualification attempt will also be heard on Monday.
Reduced to a minority in the party founded by his father, Uddhav Thackeray, on Friday, removed Mr Shinde from the post of Shiv Sena leader in the party organisation.
In a letter issued by the party, Mr Thackeray said that Mr Shinde has been indulging in "anti-party activities" and has voluntarily given up his membership.
"In exercise of the powers vested in me as the Shivsena Paksha Pramukha, I remove you from the post of Shivsena Leader in the party organisation," the letter signed by Uddhav Thackeray said.
While Mr Shinde has claimed that he is the leader of Shiv Sena, he never called himself Paksha Pramukh (party chief). Mr Thackeray is technically still the party chief.
The Shinde faction has declared in the Supreme Court that they are the real Shiv Sena. The rebels argue that Mr Thackeray has diluted the Hindutva ideology of his father Bal Thackeray by forming a coalition with Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress instead of "natural ally" BJP.
Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the Chief Minister on Thursday after the Supreme Court refused to stay the test of strength ordered by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Soon after Mr Shinde's swearing-in, Mr Thackeray questioned the BJP's decision to install a "so-called Shiv Sainik" as Maharashtra Chief Minister when it did not keep its 2019 promise of rotating the Chief Minister's post.
Addressing a press conference at Shiv Sena Bhavan, Mr Thackeray also asked the BJP not to betray Mumbai like it "betrayed" him.