Even as the clock ticks towards a no confidence motion against Dr Manmohan Singh's government the Shiv Sena is in a tizzy over their "missing" MP from Marathwada's Parbhani constituency, Tukaram Reghe Patil.
Patil, one of the 12 Sena MPs, has been into hiding since last Friday when he and his son Balasaheb Patil attended a religious function in Pandharpur on the occasion of Aashadhi Ekadashi on July 14.
"My father left for Mumbai to attend a Shiv Sena meeting in Mumbai on July 18; ever since then I haven't heard from him," his son said over the phone. This has added grist to the grapevine as some senior leaders in the Sena believe that Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is responsible for his "absence".
"Both Deshmukh and Tukaram Patil belong to the Marathwada region," said Ravindra Waikar of the Shiv Sena who currently holds the position of the Standing Committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. He said a possibility cannot be ruled out that the Maharashtra CM is responsible for Tukaram Patil's absence.
The Shiv Sena seems to be acutely worried about their missing MP as they have a sense of déjà vu here. During the no confidence motion against the Narasimha Rao government in 1993 it was the abstention of Shiv Sena MP from South Central Mumbai, Mohan Rawale that allowed the Rao government to win the trust vote by a slender margin of one vote. Rawale had excused himself then under the pretext of an upset stomach.
Interestingly, Patil who had left for Mumbai on Friday to attend a meeting held at Shiv Sena supreme Bal Thackeray's residence at Matoshree on Saturday did not turn up at Bandra, a Mumbai suburb.
"He was voted as our legislator from Parbhani for more than 12 years and in 2004 our supporters voted him as their MP. But he has stabbed us in the back," Waikar said of Patil's missing act. He said that even party executive president Uddhav Thackeray's efforts to reach Patil since the last two days have been futile.
Patil's son said, "Uddhavji had called me on Saturday night but I told him that my father has not even tried to contact us since July 18."