'All these MLAs want Devendraji as chief minister again.'
'When their own party ignored them, he supported these Sena MLAs.'
A week after Independent Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Kakade claimed that 40-45 Shiv Sena MLAs are in touch with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, an Independent MLA, who backed the Bharatiya Janata Party to form the government in Maharashtra, has now claimed that 20-25 Sena legislators are in constant touch with him and the CM.
Ravi Rana, a three-time MLA from Maharashtra's Badner constituency in Amravati district, made this startling claim even as the two alliance partners are engaged in an aggressive one-upmanship over the formation of the next government in Maharashtra.
"Let the Shiv Sena sit in the Opposition as they are covertly threatening the BJP. You will see 20, 25 Sena MLAs leaving the party and joining the Devendra Fadnavis government," Rana told Rediff.com's Prasanna D Zore over the phone.
Navneet Rana -- Rana's wife and an Independent member of the Lok Sabha from Amravati -- confirmed her husband's claim.
Navneet Rana was elected from the Amravati Lok Sabha seat backed by the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in the 2019 election.
Anil Desai, the Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha member, dismissed Ravi Rana's claim outright.
"Nonsense," exclaimed the Sena MP who is considered close to party president Uddhav Thackeray.
"Why don't you ask the chief minister if this is true?" Desai shot back when asked if Rana's claim had any substance.
Rana is confident that the Shiv Sena MLAs will cross over and support Fadnavis in the event the Sena decides to sit in the Opposition.
Rana claimed that given his stint in the Maharashtra assembly since 2009, he has befriended several Sena lawmakers and they have sounded him out about their plans to support the government formation with Fadnavis at its helm.
"All these MLAs want Devendraji as the chief minister again. When their own party ignored them, he supported these Sena MLAs," Rana reasoned why the Sena MLAs are inclined towards Fadnavis.