MUMBAI: Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, has taken action against a senior minister who left for Surat last night with at least 21 other MLAs – a “G-22.” The latest political crisis has Eknath Shinde at its centre. Maharashtra political crisis live: Maharashtra cabinet minister and Shiv Sena strongman Eknath Shinde threw the state’s ruling alliance into disarray on Tuesday, rebelling against his party and landing in a Surat hotel with some Sena MLAs, casting doubt on the two-and-a-half-year-old MVA dispensation’s stability.
Devendra Fadnavis, according to sources, did not leave Mumbai at all. From Mumbai, he has been keeping an eye on things. “He would have met Union home minister Amit Shah and party national president J P Nadda if he had been in Delhi.” He would have been caught on camera if he had gone to Ahmedabad/Surat. The media today is all over the place.” There’s no need to be concerned about our Congress members. We’ll be having a meeting today. Maharashtra Congress incharge HK Patil on the impending political crisis in the state: “The BJP is playing ‘Operation Kamal’ in all those states where there is opposition.” There were two of our people that went there (Surat). Eknath Shinde was the subject of conversation. He’s an old acquaintance of ours. Everyone knows why Eknath Shinde is also a witness to that and quit the BJP.
- Eknath Shinde, a Shiv Sena renegade, spoke with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for ten minutes this evening on the phone of a Sena emissary. However, Mr Shinde’s demand that the Sena resume its coalition with the BJP and control the state remains a standstill, according to insiders.
- Mr Shinde has taken refuge in a resort in Surat, Gujarat. This evening, two Sena leaders met with the grumpy Mr Shinde at the hotel for two hours. The fact that the G-22 he leads is being held in a BJP-ruled state exposes the rebellion’s behind-the-scenes manoeuvring. Chandrakant Patil, the Maharashtra BJP president, stated that the party is open to forming a government with Mr Shinde.
- Mr Thackeray called an emergency meeting this afternoon, but the low turnout made it a weak show of force; he has dismissed Mr Shinde as Chief Whip, a key party position; and Mr Shinde, for his part, has altered his Twitter bio to remove a reference to his Shiv Sena function.
- Mr Thackeray’s government was formed in 2019 by Mr Pawar, who brought together three parties: the Sena, the Congress, and Sharad Pawar’s NCP. Mr Pawar said the situation is “an internal matter of the Sena,” but that he remains totally committed to the three-party administration, despite suspicions about his own role and if he may have played a role in it.
- Mr Pawar also stated that he will fly to Mumbai this evening to visit Mr Thackeray; earlier today, he was a key figure at a massive Opposition rally in Delhi that chose Yashwant Sinha, India’s former Finance Minister, as its presidential candidate.
- Devendra Fadnavis, the former BJP Chief Minister of Maharashtra, is in Delhi today and met with party President Amit Shah, according to reports. Mr Fadnavis is thought to have helped Mr Shinde relocate to Surat.
- The issue was apparently sparked by Mr Thackeray’s admonition to Mr Shinde last night, following Sena MLAs’ cross-voting for the BJP in important polls yesterday. As a result of their actions, the BJP was able to win five out of a total of ten seats (its own numbers entitled the party to four seats; the cross-voting allowed a bonus seat).
- Mr Shinde, on the other hand, has been irritated by Sanjay Raut’s growing influence within the Sena, as a major adviser to Mr Thackeray. Mr Raut led the Sena’s public relations campaign today as well, portraying the problem as “defused” and Mr Shinde as “a Sena loyalist.”
- In order to unseat Mr Thackeray and win a vote of confidence, the BJP will need 37 MLAs in addition to its own 106. Mr Thackeray’s government is perilously close to achieving a majority without the G-22, with 133 votes (the Sena has 34 without the G-22).
- The G-22 of the Sena, a moniker coined for dissenters inside the Congress party, consists of five ministers, all of whom are currently in Surat. Mr Shinde is the minister for Urban Development and Public Works and is a mass leader from Thane.