Rebel Sena MLAs say they haven’t quit party, alliance with NCP, Congress caused rift with Uddhav
The rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, who are camping in Guwahati, on Saturday said they have not left the party, but indicated that they will act as a separate group in the Maharashtra Assembly under the name ‘Shiv Sena (Balasaheb)‘, even as the party executive passed a resolution in Mumbai that no outfit should use the name of the Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
Deepak Kesarkar, spokesperson of the rebel group, said since they have a two-thirds majority, Shinde remains the leader of the Sena legislature group, and reiterated that the reason for the rift with the party chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, was his decision to end the alliance with the BJP and join hands with the NCP and Congress in 2019.
Sena workers, meanwhile, vandalised an office of rebel MLA Tanaji Sawant in Pune and also targeted banners of MP Shrikant Shinde, who is Eknath Shinde’s son, in Thane. Eknath Shinde alleged that the Maharashtra government has withdrawn security cover from the residences of 38 rebel MLAs, including himself, and their families, but Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil denied any such move.
In a virtual press conference from Guwahati, the rebel group’s spokesperson Deepak Kesarkar said they have not left the Sena, but have named their group as Shiv Sena (Balasaheb).
Just 16 or 17 people can ot replace the group leader of 55 MLAs and the rebel Sena faction will challenge in court the order of the Maharashtra Assembly Deputy Speaker, Narhari Zirwal, replacing Shinde as the Shiv Sena group leader, he said.
“The MLAs had told party president Uddhav Thackeray that they should stay with the party with whom they had contested election….When so many people voice the same opinion, there must be some substance in it,” he said, referring to the Shinde group’s initial demand that the Sena should revive its alliance with the BJP and sever ties with Congress and NCP.
To a question whether the Shinde group will withdraw support to the Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra, Kesarkar said, “Why should we withdraw support? We are the Shiv Sena. We have not hijacked the party, the NCP and Congress have hijacked it.”
He also said the Shinde group will prove its majority in the Assembly, but “we will not merge with any other political party.”
“We have decided to name our group Shiv Sena (Balasaheb) because we believe in his (Bal Thackeray’s) ideology,” he added.
Asked about Uddhav Thackeray-led faction’s objection to the use of party founder Bal Thackeray’s name by other groups, Kesarkar said, “We will consider it.”
To a question when the rebel MLAs would return to Mumbai, he said they will come back “at an appropriate time.”
“At present, there is pressure, we don’t feel that it is safe to return,” Kesarkar said, referring to incidents of attacks on offices and residences of rebel MLAs in Maharashtra.
The rebel faction had nothing against Uddhav Thackeray, he added. “It is true that the core issue is with the Nationalist Congress Party and its insulting treatment to us. Many MLAs who are with us here have been raising this concern with the party leadership for the last many months,” Kesarkar said.
“We are not breaking the Shiv Sena. We are just asking him (Uddhav) to join hands with the BJP,” he added.
In Mumbai, the national executive of the Shiv Sena passed a resolution authorising Uddhav Thackeray to take action against “those who have betrayed the party”, but refrained from taking immediate action against Eknath Shinde and others.
The national executive condemned the rebel MLAs and said the party was firmly behind Uddhav Thackeray, said party MP Sanjay Raut.
“Balasaheb (Thackeray) and Shiv Sena are two sides of the same coin and except Shiv Sena, no one can use his name,” one of the resolutions passed by the executive read.
Party leader Aaditya Thackeray said this was a battle between “truth and lies” and “we will win.”
Congress, part of the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance, said the tripartite dispensation remains strong.
In a statement, the party said the Eknath Shinde camp had submitted a notice to move a resolution to remove deputy Speaker, Narhari Zirwal, under Article 179 of the Constitution.
“But rules say any motion in the Assembly can be moved only after the Governor issues summons to convene the Assembly session….As of now, the Governor has not issued summons to convene the session,” it said.
It also questioned the claims of the Shinde camp claiming the support of the bulk of Shiv Sena MLAs. “If rebels have numbers, why are they not demanding a no-confidence motion? Why is the Governor not issuing summons for the Assembly session, which he is empowered to do? It’s being heard that rebels and BJP MLAs will demand the election of a new Speaker, which is not possible because the Governor had earlier refused in writing permission for election to the post of Speaker as the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court. He can’t take a U-turn now,” the Congress statement said.
NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase asked “who is paying the bills of hotels in Surat and Guwahati as well as the chartered flight” (which allegedly took rebel MLAs from Surat to Guwahati).
“If ED and IT get activated, the source of the black money will be exposed,” he added.
June 25, 2022