Sena Rebel Eknath Shinde, MLAs Leave Gujarat For Assam: 10 Points

Eknath Shinde is a prominent Sena leader in Thane

Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde, camping out in Surat with 21 MLAs, was joined this evening by two more MLAs, shortly before they flew to Guwahati. Mr Shinde is at the centre of the deep political crisis in Maharashtra.

Here’s your 10-point guide to this big story:

  1. The move to shift Eknath Shinde and his MLAs to Guwahati came shortly after his telephonic conversation with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who later assured party leaders that the rebels will come back to the fold.

  2. “We are trying to understand what Eknath Shinde needs. They will come back. All MLAs will be with us soon. The NCP and the Congress are also with us,” Uddhav Thackeray told party MLAs this evening, sources said.

  3. Mr Thackeray had asked Mr Shinde to reconsider and return to the party. Mr Shinde had demanded that the Sena restore its alliance with the BJP and rule the state, sources said.

  4. “Now, some are saying that one should join the BJP. How do we go together? We have suffered before by going with them. Why go with them now,” sources quoted Mr Thackeray as saying at the party meet.

  5. That Mr Shinde and his G-22 are being hosted exclusively in BJP-ruled states — Gujarat and now Assam — reveals the behind-the-scenes moves of the rebellion. The BJP president in Maharashtra, Chandrakant Patil, said the party is open to forming a government with Mr Shinde.

  6. Veteran politician and Nationalist Congress chief Sharad Pawar — part of Maharashtra’s ruling alliance — said the crisis is “an internal matter of the Sena”. Amid speculation about his own role and whether he may have played a part in the crisis, Mr Pawar also said he remains fully committed to the three-party government.

  7. The crisis in Maharashtra reportedly owes much to Devendra Fadnavis, the former Chief Minister from the BJP, who spent the day in Delhi and met party boss Amit Shah. Mr Fadnavis is seen as having facilitated Mr Shinde’s relocation to Surat.

  8. The crisis, however, was reportedly triggered by Mr Thackeray’s reprimand to Mr Shinde last night after Sena MLAs cross-voted for the BJP in key elections yesterday. Their action meant that the BJP won five of 10 seats (though its own numbers entitled the party to four seats). Earlier today, Mr Shinde was removed from the post of the Chief Whip and retaliated by editing his Twitter bio, removing a reference to his Shiv Sena role.

  9. Mr Shinde has also been smarting over the increasing importance within the Sena of Sanjay Raut, who is seen as a key aide of Mr Thackeray. Today as well, it was Mr Raut who led the PR campaign for the Sena, describing the crisis as one that would be defused and Mr Shinde as “a Sena loyalist.”

  10. To displace Mr Thackeray and win a vote of confidence – should it come to that – the BJP needs 37 MLAs apart from its own 106. Without the G-22, Mr Thackeray’s government is perilously close to the majority mark at 133 (the Sena has 34 without the G-22).

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