This Article is From Jun 24, 2022

NDTV Exclusive: Rebel Eknath Shinde Claims 50 MLAs Back Him, 40 From Sena

Maharashtra political crisis: Eknath Shinde has reached the critical number of MLAs, 37, required to split the party in the assembly without falling foul of the anti-defection law.

New Delhi:

Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde told NDTV today that more than 50 MLAs are backing him in his revolt against his boss Uddhav Thackeray, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. "Nearly 40 of them are from the Shiv Sena," Mr Shinde, who is camping in BJP-ruled Assam, told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

"Those who have faith in our role will join us. We want to carry forward Balasaheb Thackeray's ideology, those who like it will come," Mr Shinde said, insisting the rebels have not left Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sena.

Mr Shinde, 58, also said that team Thackeray's move to file disqualification pleas against the rebel MLAs was "illegal". "What was done yesterday is illegal, they have no right. We are the people in the majority and numbers are important in a democracy. That is illegal, even they cannot do such suspension. We will not be scared by this," he said.

Mr Shinde has reached the critical number of MLAs, 37, required to split the party in the assembly without falling foul of the anti-defection law. Till yesterday, 37 Shiv Sena MLAs and 9 Independents were with him.

Mr Shinde said there have been "no discussion" between the rebels and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is also the Shiv Sena chief.

Thirty-seven MLAs have written to the Governor and Deputy Speaker, naming Eknath Shinde as their leader. The move came shortly after Uddhav Thackeray sought the disqualification of 12 rebels. Including Mr Shinde.

"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," tweeted Eknath Shinde on Thursday.

Eknath Shinde has demanded the Sena break its "unnatural alliance" with the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party, or NCP, and restore its alliance with the BJP and rule the state.

"In the last 2.5 years, Shiv Sena has only suffered and other parties have benefited. Where other parties have got stronger, the Sena has only weakened. To save the party and the Shiv Sainiks, it is vital that the unnatural alliance be junked. It is important to make this decision in the interest of Maharashtra," Mr Shinde tweeted on Day 2 of the crisis.

The BJP, which is hosting the rebels in Assam after first putting them up in Gujarat's Surat, denied the accusation of engineering an "Operation Lotus" in Maharashtra. A BJP minister of Assam, however,  was seen in photographs of Eknath Shinde and the rebels at the Guwahati hotel where they are staying. The term "Operation Lotus", a play on the BJP's symbol, has been used by the opposition to describe what they call the party's machinations to topple non-BJP governments in states.

Mr Thackeray has said his "resignation letter is ready" and that "if Sena MLAs say it to me, I will quit." Being power-hungry, he said, is not in his DNA. "I am the son of Balasaheb," he reminded his party, underscoring the fact that his father abstained from taking any post in multiple governments that included his party.