‘Why is Eknath Shinde not in Mumbai staking claim to form government?’

‘The BJP has 106 MLAs and Eknath Shinde claims the support of 40 MLAs. So why are they both not forming the government right now in Mumbai? Why the delay?’

Rediff.com’s Syed Firdaus Ashraf reports.

As Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde was seen with more than three dozen party MLAs in Guwahati, Assam, the question that is bothering Shiv Sainiks is, why is Shinde in Assam? 

“If Eknath Shinde has 36 MLAs with him why is he not coming and forming the government in Maharashtra (with BJP support)? Why is he sitting in Assam?” wondered an insider from the Shiv Sena. 

Shinde was in Surat (in BJP ruled Gujarat) on Tuesday with a dozen MLAs in open declaration of rebellion against party chief Uddhav Thackeray. 

As the number of MLAs by his side rose on Tuesday night, Shinde and his supporters flew to Assam, also ruled by the BJP, on Wednesday morning. 

Another development that took many Shiv Sainiks by surprise was, why was a political novice like Milind Narvekar sent to Surat to pacify Shinde and not some other senior leader? 

“Narvekar is surely a close aide of Uddhav Thackeray but he was never capable of pacifying Shinde. So, why send him? What was Uddhav thinking?

“This shows that there is a larger game being played, which only the top leaders know about, and no one else has any idea of what is going on, most of them are flying kites in their political analysis,” sources told Rediff.com.

The Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs in the Maharashtra assembly and in order to not get disqualified under the anti-defection law Shinde needs at least 38 MLAs (two-thirds the Sena’s legislative strength) on his side; he has claimed that 40 legislators are currently with him.

Shinde had already conveyed to Uddhay Thackeray that he wanted the Shiv Sena to reunite with the Bharatiya Janata Party over Hindutva and that he must end the alliance with the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra. 

“The BJP has 106 MLAs and now Shinde has got 40 MLAs with him (a simple majority). So why are they both not forming the government right now in Mumbai? Why the delay?” wondered the Sena functionary. 

Amid the political turmoil, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has tested positive for Covid-19, placing a question mark over the immediate conduct of a floor test to ascertain if the Uddhav Thackeray government has lost its majority. And with Congress observer for Maharashtra disclosing that Uddhav too has tested Covid positive, the chances of an early trust vote seem remote.

The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government is a three-party alliance among the Shiv Sena (55 MLAs), Nationalist Congress Party (53) and Congress (44).

Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke passed away recently, reducing its strength from 56 to 55. 

The alliance had 152 MLAs when they formed the government in November 2019, well above the majority mark of 145 in the 288-member assembly. 

Besides, a 29-strong group of Independent MLAs were the support base for the MVA when they formed the government in 2019 to keep the BJP out. 

The Shiv Sena leadership has surely got a jolt from Shinde’s rebellion but what is not worrying them is that the party cadre has not moved away with him except in the Thane and Kalyan belt, considered Shinde’s stronghold. 

“When Narayan Rane and Raj Thackeray moved out of the Shiv Sena they took away a large chunk of Sena workers with them but this is not the case with Shinde,” said the source.

There are banners put up only in Thane and Kalyan district supporting him and not in other parts of Maharashtra. 

When Rane left the Sena in 2005, he had put up a huge poster of him with Sonia Gandhi outside Bal Thackeray’s home at Matoshree in a defiant show of strength.

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