Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's brother, Sunil Raut, on Monday dismissed claims that he was in touch with rebel Eknath Shinde, stating that he was a staunch Shiv Sainik and will continue to work for the party till his last breath.
Sunil Raut is a two-time MLA from Mumbai's Vikhroli in Maharashtra.
On Sunday, there were media reports that the rebel Eknath Shinde camp had contacted Sunil Raut and the latter might head towards Guwahati where the rebels has been putting up in hotel since Wednesday.
When asked about the speculation, Sunil Raut said: "Why will I go to Guwahati? I would rather go to Goa to see its natural beauty. Will I go to Guwahati to see the faces of those traitors? I am a Shiv Sainik, and I will work for the party till my last breath."
He further exuded confidence that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will surely win.
"Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray can say all that they want to say. Uddhav Thackeray will surely win. I was in Shiv Sena and I will remain in this party," he added.
The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra is facing crisis as more than two-thirds of its MLAs have rebelled against the party president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Thackeray.
Meanwhile, Mr Shinde has called a meeting of MLAs camping with him later today, said sources.
The meeting is called amid a Supreme Court hearing against the disqualification notices issued by Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal against rebel MLAs. The rebel leader also challenged the appointment of Ajay Chaudhary as the Shiv Sena's legislative leader in the House in place of Shinde.
The petitioner, Mr Shinde has sought to issue direction to Deputy Speaker to not take any action in the disqualification petition under Rule 6 of MLA Defection Rules seeking disqualification of the rebel MLAs and also not to take any action on the same until the resolution for removal of the Deputy Speaker is decided.
The Deputy Speaker, who is in charge of the House in the absence of the Speaker and has issued the notice dated June 25, 2022, in the disqualification petition against the petitioner.
Earlier, Mr Shinde spoke to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray about the recent political situation in the state. He spoke to Raj Thackeray over the phone twice and also enquired about his health.
Mr Shinde, who is currently camping in Assam along with other MLAs, on Sunday lashed out at the party for allegedly supporting the culprits of the Mumbai bomb blast, Dawood Ibrahim and those responsible for the taking lives of innocent people.
"How can Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sena support people who had a direct connection with culprits of Mumbai bomb blast, Dawood Ibrahim and those responsible for taking lives of innocent people of Mumbai. That's why we took such a step, it's better to die," Mr Shinde said in a tweet.
However, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray claimed that on May 20, CM Uddhav Thackeray had asked Eknath Shinde to become CM if he wanted to, but at that time he did drama and now just a month later, he rebelled.
Former minister and Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar, who is now in the Eknath Shinde camp, had said that the MLAs of the Shinde camp are ready to face the floor test in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly at any time, but first recognition should be given to Mr Shinde's faction.
The Shinde faction has named their group 'Shiv Sena Balasaheb'.
The naming of the group after the name of the Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray attracted sharp reactions from the Uddhav faction as the Chief Minister said that those who left the party should not seek votes in the name of the party founder.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)