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Shinde Unsure If Rebels Will Stay Loyal To Him

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
June 24, 2022 17:01 IST
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So worried is Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde of desertions that he is asking rebel MLAs in Guwahati to sign affidavits affirming that they won't go back on supporting the 'cause of Hindutva' after reaching Mumbai.
Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com reports.

IMAGE: Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde with rebel party MLAs at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Guwahati. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

While it is being reported that a majority of Shiv Sena MLAs are with rebel party leader Eknath Shinde, he is still camping in Guwahati as he is yet to make sure that he doesn't loses his slight edge on returning to Mumbai, whenever that be.

At present, Shinde claims to have the support of 55 MLAs, including 40 Shiv Sena legislators.

He is hoping that more MLAs will jump the Sena ship and turn up in Guwahati, making it clear that he has got complete control of the party.

To evade the anti-defection law, Shinde needs 37 MLAs which he claims to already have.

The Shiv Sena currently has 55 MLAs in the Maharashtra assembly.

However, even if one MLA switches over to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's side after reaching Mumbai, Shinde will be in trouble.

So, it is learnt that Shinde is taking the signatures of all MLAs staying with him on affidavits stating that they will not go back on their word on supporting the 'cause of Hindutva' after reaching Mumbai.

Shinde tweeted that he rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray because he alleged Bal Thackeray's youngest son had diluted the Sena founder's cause of Hindutva by joining hands with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.

This, however, is not going down well with all of Shinde supporters as they wonder what former Congress minister turned Shiv Sena rebel Abdul Sattar is doing with them in Guwahati in that case.

'Abdul has reached Guwahati to support the cause of Hindutva. Isn't it surprising?' is a quip going around in Shiv Sena circles.

Earlier, Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Santosh Danve had alleged that Sattar had voted against Sena nominee Sanjay Pawar, thus ensuring BJP candidate Dhananjay Mahadik's victory in the recent Rajya Sabha elections from Maharashtra.

When Shinde took the first batch of nearly a dozen Shiv Sena MLAs to Surat on Monday night, they were kept in the dark about where they were headed or the purpose of their travel.

He had apparently told them that after the Maharashtra legislative council election results on Monday evening, he would take them to his constituency, Thane.

These MLAs reportedly realised only midway that they were going to Surat.

It is said that most of these Sena MLAs had no idea that Shinde was masterminding a plan to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, in which they had unwittingly become accomplices.

After the return of Akola MLA Nitin Deshmukh from Guwahati, there is unease in the Shinde camp.

Deshmukh was one of the first MLAs who accompanied Shinde to Surat, under the impression that he was being taken to Thane. He could get a sense of Shinde's plan only after reaching Surat.

He escaped from Guwahati and reached Mumbai, thus bringing some relief to the Uddhav Thackeray camp.

After reaching Mumbai, Deshmukh said he was forcefully taken by Shinde to Surat, from where the Gujarat police took him in a chartered flight to Assam.

Deshmukh said Kolhapur MLA Prakash Abitkar wanted to escape, but was unable to leave. Abitkar is still holed up with Shinde in Assam.

Shinde has to be certain of the support of every rebel MLA before he arrives in Mumbai. He will also need to ensure that no other rebel MLA flees Guwahati to join hands with Thackeray.

It is still not clear how exactly Deshmukh escaped and flew to Mumbai.

In their defence, after Deshmukh's allegations, the Shinde camp posted a picture on social media showing Deshmukh willingly travelling in a chartered plane with them to Guwahati.

"The head count has importance only in the Maharashtra assembly, not in Guwahati. Shinde knows that and he is not coming to Mumbai unless he is very sure of having more than 37 MLAs on his side," says a Shiv Sena source.

Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar had highlighted this fact on Thursday when he said that any future action will be decided in the assembly.

"We won't relent. We will win on the floor of the House. We gave an opportunity to those who have left, but now it's too late," said Sanjay Raut, the Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha MP.

"I challenge them to come to the floor of the House," declares Raut. "The MVA government will complete the remaining 2.5 years of its life."

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
 
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