A five-star hotel in Guwahati, where rebel Shiv Sena MLAs from Maharashtra are staying, has emerged as one of the nerve centres amid the ongoing political crisis for the Uddhav Thackeray government.
Sources have told NDTV that 70 rooms have been booked for seven days. The MLAs led by Eknath Shinde were, at first, in a hotel in Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat after reaching there on Monday. They flew in to Guwahati in Assam, another BJP-ruled state, on Wednesday.
Seven days' tariff for the rooms in Guwahati's Radisson Blu hotel is Rs 56 lakh, according to sources at the hotel and local politicians. Add to this a daily estimated cost of food and other services at Rs 8 lakh a day.
The hotel has 196 rooms. Apart from the 70 rooms booked for the MLAs and their teams, the management is not accepting new bookings, barring those booked on corporate deals already. Also, the banquet is closed, so is the restaurant except for those staying at the hotel.
The cost of the whole "operation" will include chartered flights and other transport arrangements, besides other expenses that may not be known so far.
The hotel in Guwahati where the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs are staying.
Eknath Shinde, camping in Guwahati with around 40 MLAs, including Independents, has demanded the Shiv Sena break its alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, or NCP, saying that Shiv Sena leaders suffered the most in the last two-and-a-half years of the coalition's rule. Some of the rebels have said the Sena should tie up with "natural ally" BJP to form a new government. The MLAs have booked the hotel in Guwahati for a week, indicating they are prepared for the long haul.
The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, said it would consider exiting the Maharashtra ruling alliance with Sharad Pawar's NCP and Congress but only if the rebels returned "in 24 hours" . This is a climbdown as the rebel group led by Eknath Shinde gained more numbers.
"We are ready to walk out of MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government in Maharashtra, but party rebels should return to Mumbai (from Guwahati) in 24 hours," Sanjay Raut, who is Shiv Sena's chief spokesperson, said. Mr Raut said the MLAs should "discuss the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray" and added, "Don't write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp."