"If Our Faction Isn't Recognised...": Sena Rebel Deepak Kesarkar

Sena MLA Eknath Shinde has named MLA Deepak Kesarkar as the spokesperson of his new faction, which they have named "Shiv Sena Balasaheb"

Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs are staying at a hotel in Assam's Guwahati


The battle for control of the Shiv Sena has come down to who will carry forward the legacy of Bal Thackeray, the party's founder and the father of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Sena MLA Eknath Shinde, who Team Thackeray has pointed out as the ringleader of a group of nearly 40 rebel MLAs holed up at a hotel in faraway BJP-ruled Assam, has named MLA Deepak Kesarkar as the spokesperson of his new faction, which they have christened "Shiv Sena Balasaheb" to mean the "ideal Shiv Sena as envisaged by Bal Thackeray".

The faction has demanded recognition, which can only come from the Election Commission.

"We have the numbers, but we respect Chief Uddhav Thackeray and our faction won't merge with any other party," Mr Kesarkar told reporters today in Guwahati, where BJP sources have told NDTV that close aides of Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are helping with logistics but not taking part in any internal discussions of the rebel Sena MLAs.

"If recognition isn't given to our faction, we will go to court and prove our numbers," Mr Kesarkar said, adding the rebel MLAs won't quit the Sena but will carry on the legacy of "Balasaheb".

On a question by reporters whether the Shiv Sena, and not the faction, is the one that has a direct link with the legacy of the Chief Minister's father and the faction would not be a true representation of the party, Mr Kesarkar said, "This is a constitutional struggle. We are not leaving Balasaheb's ideology. We didn't do anything wrong, illegal."

On whether the rebels want a Thackeray-muft Sena, Mr Kesarkar told NDTV, "We agree there can be no Shiv Sena without Uddhav Thackeray." 

At a party meeting today, Uddhav Thackeray had criticised the rebel MLAs for using Bal Thackeray's name in their war of optics.

"Some people are asking me to say something, but I've already said that they (rebel MLAs) can do whatever they want to do, I won't interfere in their matters. They can take their own decision, but no one should use Balasaheb Thackeray's name," the Chief Minister said.

The next big action in the Maharashtra crisis is likely to play out on Monday, when the rebel MLAs are expected to come to Mumbai, going by disqualification notices issued against them by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal. But the rebels may open another front to avoid coming to Mumbai.

Mr Zirwal has also rejected a no-confidence motion against him moved by two independent MLAs from the rival camp as it was not submitted at the Deputy Speaker's office but sent in an anonymous email, news agency PTI reported quoting unknown sources.