What Rebel Eknath Shinde Told Uddhav Thackeray In 10-Minute Call

Eknath Shinde -- who with his 21 rebel MLAs set off a crisis for the Uddhav Thackeray government -- spoke to the Chief Minister this evening from the phone of Milind Narvekar, one of the Sena emissaries

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray sent his emissary to meet Eknath Shinde

New Delhi:

A 10-minute telephone conversation between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde this evening, has failed to suggest a way out of the impasse. Mr Shinde's demand, if anything, has only confirmed rift, sources indicated.

Mr Shinde -- who with his 21 rebel MLAs set off a crisis for the Uddhav Thackeray government -- spoke to the Chief Minister this evening from the phone of Milind Narvekar, one of the Sena emissaries who met him at the Surat hotel where he is camping out.

Claiming that so far, he has not taken any decision or signed any document, Mr Shinde declared that he has taken this step for the betterment of the party.

When Uddhav Thackeray asked him to reconsider and return to the fold, Mr Shinde demanded that the Sena renew its alliance with the BJP and jointly rule Maharashtra, sources said.

"As of now, no solution has emerged from this conversation," a source said.

As the Sena and the Congress blamed the BJP for engineering the crisis and claiming much money changed hands, Mr Shinde has pitched his move as an ideological decision.

"Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva. We have never and will never cheat for power regarding Balasaheb's thoughts and Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb's teachings," read a rough translation of his Marathi tweet before he flew to BJP-ruled Gujarat last night.

The Sena minister, however, had left for Surat last night after he was pulled up by Mr Thackeray over cross-voting by alliance MLAs which had benefitted the BJP in both Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council elections. Today, he was relieved from his post as the party Chief Whip.

The BJP has claimed that the Sena MLAs were unhappy with the way the government was run.

Senior BJP leader and former state minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, "There was no secret that several Sena leaders were unhappy with the government as well".

The Congress ruled out the possibility of Mr Shinde's move toppling the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

"To break the Sena, you need two-thirds of party members to leave, which means around 37 members have to walk away. Eknath Shinde definitely does not have that kind of numbers. We are hearing he has 12 or 13 members. So if they cross over, they lose membership," the party's senior leader Prithviraj Chavan has said.

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