Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde, camping in Guwahati, has claimed that he has the support of 34 MLAs of his party and passed a resolution on Wednesday evening reinstating himself as the leader of the Shiv Sena legislative party, a day after he was removed from the post by the Sena leadership.
The resolution passed by the rebel camp led by Shinde has named Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale as the new chief whip of the party and removed incumbent Sunil Prabhu from the post.
The letter issued by Shinde in the afternoon bears the signatures of 34 MLAs of Shiv Sena.
Earlier in the day, Prabu had issued a letter asking all the MLAs of Shiv Sena, including the rebels accompanying Shinde, to attend a legislature party meeting in Mumbai at 5 pm or face action under the anti-defection law.
The letter issued by the Shinde camp stated that the Sena leadership's decision to sever ties with BJP after the 2019 Maharashtra polls had a "negative" impact on the party cadres and voters.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly.
As per the provisions of the anti-defection law, a merger requires the consent of two-thirds of the members of a legislative party who have consented to merge with another political party.
Shinde will have to ensure the support of 37 MLAs (two-thirds of 55 MLAs) to avoid disqualification.
The letter also alleged that Sena's core ideology of Hindutva and protecting the rights of the "marathi manoos" were compromised upon while forming the MVA government with "ideologically opposite" NCP and Congress.
The Shinde-led faction described the Maha Vikash Aghadi as a "corrupt government".
The letter alleged "enormous discontent" amongst the cadres of the Shiv Sena for forming a government with NCP and the Indian National Congress (in November 2019), saying they are ideologically opposed to the Sena.
Hinting at the causes behind their move to raise the banner of revolt, the MLAs said they and Sena workers were facing "humiliating queries" from voters for supporting the ideological opponents.
"We have also been subjected to a lot of criticism for being part of this corrupt Maharashtra government," the letter stated.
The letter, which is viewed as a snub to Sena president and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, alleged that Sena's core principles -- Hindutva and Marathi manoos -- were compromised while forming the MVA government.
The Shiv Sena is a party with a wide ideological base which was formed with an objective to fight for the rights of the local Marathi people, the letter said.
"The ideology of our party's leader the late Balasaheb Thackeray was to give a clean and honest government to the people of Maharashtra and also without compromising on the principle of Hindutva, which was defeated on the first day itself by aligning with the opposing ideologies," it stated.
The letter signed by 34 MLAs of Shiv Sena has used words like "party leadership" instead of taking the name of Uddhav Thackeray.
"The act of our party leaders to sever ties with the BJP post-2019 assembly polls had a tremendous negative impact upon the voters and party cadre at large. There was a continuous hue and cry against the party leadership for aligning with Opposition parties (NCP and Congress), but it went ahead and formed the MVA government," the letter said.