Uddhav Thackeray back to family home after offering to resign; more Shiv Sena MLAs join Eknath Shinde’s camp

India

oi-Madhuri Adnal

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Published: Thursday, June 23, 2022, 1:41 [IST]

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Mumbai/Guwahati, Jun 23: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night vacated his office residence, hours after reaching out to Shiv Sena dissidents with an emotional appeal and offering to quit, while rebel leader Eknath Shinde remained defiant and insisted the party should walk out of “unnatural” ruling alliance MVA and claimed support of “enough number” of MLAs.

Uddhav Thackeray back to family home after offering to resign;  more Shiv Sena MLAs join Eknath Shindes camp

The CM moved out of ‘Varsha’, his official residence in south Mumbai, and shifted to Matoshri, the private bungalow of the Thackeray family in suburban Bandra, amid high drama even as the Shiv Sena asserted he will not resign in the wake of rebellion by Shinde, a Cabinet member camping with rebel MLAs in Guwahati.

Sena leaders like Neelam Gorhe and Chandrakant Khair were present at ‘Varsha’ when Thackeray was leaving the official residence. Party workers raised slogans and showered petals on the CM as he left his official house along with his family members at around 9.50 pm.

He reached outside Matoshri at around 10.30 pm. However, it took another 40 minutes for the CM to cover a short distance from outside Matoshri to inside his residence.

Shiv Sena’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut asserted Thackeray will not resign following the rebellion and maintained the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) will prove its majority in the Assembly if required.

Earlier in the day, Thackeray reached out to rebels with an emotional appeal and offered to quit, saying he will be happy if a Shiv Sainik succeeds him.

Breaking his silence over the revolt led by Shinde, the Sena strongman from Thane, Thackeray said he was ready to step down if the rebel leader and MLAs supporting him, all camping in Guwahati in the BJP-ruled Assam, declare that they don’t want him to continue as CM.

In an 18-minute live webcast in the evening which was delayed by 30 minutes, Thackeray, who has tested positive for COVID-19, admitted to being inexperienced and clarified that a spine surgery late last year kept him away from meeting people.

The CM said he was ready to give up the post of party president as well if Shiv Sainiks feel he isn’t capable of leading the outfit which is heading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, which also includes the NCP and the Congress.

“Why make statements from Surat (where rebels headed first on Monday night) and other places. Come and tell me on my face that I am incompetent to handle the post of Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president. I will resign immediately. I will keep my resignation letter ready and you can come and take it to the Raj Bhavan,” he said.

Recalling the events of November 2019 when the MVA took shape, Thackeray said he agreed to become CM despite his political inexperience after NCP president Sharad Pawar suggested him to take up the job.

Thackeray said he was shocked at the ongoing political developments in the state, which started on Monday night when Shinde (58) raised a banner of revolt and landed in a hotel in Surat, around 280km from Mumbai, with a bunch of disgruntled MLAs.

“If my own people do not want me, I don’t want to stick to power. I am ready with my resignation letter even if one rebel comes and tells me face to face that he doesn’t want me as chief minister. am also ready to quit as Shiv Sena if Shiv Sainiks tell me so.

The CM reiterated his party’s commitment to Hindutva. “Hindutva is Shiv Sena’s breath. I was the first CM to speak about Hindutva in the Legislative Assembly,” Thackeray said.
Showing no signs of backing down from his revolt, which has threatened the existence of the two-and-a-half-year old Thackeray government, the rebel leader said MVA was an “unnatural” alliance and it was imperative for the Shiv Sena to Walk out of the coalition for its own sake and that of party workers.

The Sena strongman said the MVA, formed in November 2019, was beneficial only to alliance partners the Congress and the NCP, while ordinary Shiv Sainiks have suffered the most in the last two-and-a-half years of the coalition’s existence.

“It is necessary to quit the unnatural alliance for the sake of Shiv Sainiks and the Shiv Sena. It is important to take a decision in the interest of the state,” Shinde, who is camping in Guwahati along with rebel Sena MLAs, tweeted.
Shinde maintained that while the NCP and the Congress were growing stronger in the MVA alliance, the Shiv Sena, which heads the governing bloc, and its workers were getting systematically weakened.

Shinde has claimed the support of 46 MLAs, including Independents.

He has given a letter to the speaker of the assembly, signed by 35 Sena MLAs, replacing Sunil Prabhu with Bharat Gogavale as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena legislature party.

The urban development minister got a shot in the arm when two more MLAs – Yogesh Kadam, minister Gulabrao Patil, independents Chandrakant Patil and Manjula Gavit joined the dissident camp.

Congress and NCP leaders held meetings with their legislators and also called on Thackeray to discuss the prevailing situation. Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath spoke to Thackeray over the phone while NCP chief Sharad Pawar met him at ‘Varsha’.

Shiv Sainiks gathered at ‘Varsha’ as well as ‘Matoshri’ to show solidarity with Thackeray.

In Nagpur too, local Sena leaders, office-bearers and workers gathered at Variety Square to express solidarity with their party chief and raised slogans in support of Thackeray.

Shiv Sena Nagpur city chief Nitin Tiwari told PTI that every party worker is standing firmly behind Thackeray and maintained the rebellion will fail.

Shiv Sena MP Raut tweeted that political developments in Maharashtra are headed towards dissolution of the Assembly but state Congress president Nana Patole said Chief Minister Thackeray has no plans to make such a recommendaiton and insisted the MVA would continue to exist in its current form.

Raut rejected reports that NCP president Sharad Pawar had asked Thackeray to make rebel leader Shinde the CM to save the MVA government.

Story first published: Thursday, June 23, 2022, 1:41 [IST]

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