Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his NCP counterpart Sharad Pawar held a closed-door meeting at a Mumbai hotel on Sunday evening, shortly after the two, joined by Sena leaders Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut, addressed NCP MLAs. Sources said Uddhav Thackeray, whose dreams of becoming Chief Minister of Maharashtra have disappeared, at least for now, after the chaotic events of Saturday, reassured the MLAs that the Sena-NCP alliance would win through and that it would eventually form the government in Maharashtra.
Sharad Pawar, who has battled to recover his errant flock after his nephew, Ajit Pawar, led a breakaway faction of 10-11 MLAs on Saturday, also spoke and tried to boost their morale.
After the meeting Aaditya Thackeray posted photographs of the gathered MLAs with a hashtag - #MahaStrength - in a display of solidarity with the NCP. Sources said the Sena is helping the NCP and the Congress keep their MLAs safe from the BJP.
Pandemonium broke out in Maharashtra in the early hours of Saturday morning after the BJP returned to power in the state. Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as Chief Minister and Ajit Pawar became his deputy. A furious Shiv Sena tore into him; "This has been nothing but a stab in the back of the people of Maharashtra," Sanjay Raut raged.
The move came only hours after a tripartite meeting between the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP, which was attended by Ajit Pawar, appeared to all but settle the question of government formation. The parties approached the Supreme Court on Sunday morning seeking an immediate floor test.
With an eye on that test, the Sena, the Congress and the NCP have rushed to guard their MLAs by stashing them in hotels around Mumbai. NCP MLAs have been moved to the Renaissance Hotel, Sena MLAs are in Lalit Hotel and the Congress has moved its MLAs to JW Marriott.
Meanwhile, of the MLAs who offered the BJP support on Saturday, at least four have returned to the NCP. Shahpur MLA Daulat Daroda, against whom a missing person's complaint was filed, surfaced on Sunday and offered his support to Sharad Pawar.
Three others - incommunicado since Saturday - also surfaced. Manikrao Kokate, Anil Patil and Nitin Pawar have also offered support to Mr Pawar.