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MVA on Edge as Shiv Sena Minister Shinde, 21 MLAs Unreachable in Surat

Amey Tirodkar |
The development comes after all the five candidates of the BJP were elected to the Legislative Council.

Maharashtra’s ruling coalition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) missed the red flags despite the humiliating Rajya Sabha (RS) election defeat on June 10. Despite having fewer numbers, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won three out of six seats up for grabs.

The BJP continued its winning streak in Legislative Council (LC) elections when all its five candidates Pravin Darekar, Ram Shinde, Shrikant Bharatiya, Uma Khapre and Prasad Lad were elected on Tuesday. While two candidates each from MVA partners Shiv Sena and NCP were elected, only one was elected from Congress. The BJP has 106 MLAs, Shiv Sena 55, NCP 51 and Congress 44 while 29 others are from smaller parties and Independents.

Three out of the 288 Legislative Assembly members could not vote after Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latake died last month and NCP MLAs Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik were jailed for alleged money laundering.

The BJP polled 133 votes, Shiv Sena 52 votes, NCP 58 and Congress 44 together. The BJP candidates won by getting the votes of Independent members, smaller parties and cross-voting by some MVA MLAs. One of Congress’s nominated candidates Chandrakant Handore lost due to the same reason.

The MVA is on the edge with the ‘magic mark’ in the Assembly down to 145 with Latke’s death and Deshmukh and Nawab Malik barred from voting.

In what is being seen as a sign of rebellion, Shiv Sena’s Thane strongman and urban development minister Eknath Shinde along with 21 MLAs, including 11 from the party, left for

Surat on Monday night is unreachable. He claims to have the support of the MLAs camping with him at Le Meridian hotel. 

Sources in Shinde’s inner circle told Newsclick that he was feeling sidelined since the formation of the government. “He was loyal to Matoshree (Uddhav Thackeray’s house). But he was being sidelined in his ministry as well as the party. His decisions were either kept aside or delayed to get clearance from the CM’s office. Shinde felt he could lose his influence both within and outside the party,” one of close aides said.

Another MLA close to Shinde told Newsclick that the minister was not given important responsibility even in the RS and LC elections. “Everything was being handled by Cabinet minister Anil Parab and MP Anil Desai. That’s why Shinde decided to take the decision,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has said that contact with Shinde and some of the MLAs has been established. “Few of our MLAs want to come back but they are not being allowed. We are confident that everything will be normal and these attempts to topple the MVA government won’t succeed,” he told reporters. 

Considering the precarious situation, Congress and NCP leaders too are cautious. Senior Congress leaders met in Mumbai and decided to wait and watch while keeping their MLAs together. NCP president Sharad Pawar will return to Mumbai on Tuesday evening and his nephew and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is talking to his MLAs to keep the flock together.

Role of 29 MLAs of Smaller Parties & Independents Crucial

Mumbai: With uncertainty looming over the Maharashtra MVA government's stability in the wake of Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde camping in Gujarat with some party MLAs, the stand of 29 legislators from smaller parties and Independents is likely to be crucial.

The 288-member state Legislative Assembly has one vacancy due to the death of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke. Any party or alliance needs 144 MLAs to be in power with simple majority.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress) government had won the trust vote on the floor of the Assembly on November 30, 2019, with 169 MLAs voting in favour of the coalition.

The Shiv Sena currently has 55 MLAs, the NCP has 53 legislators and the Congress has 44 MLAs.

The BJP had won 105 seats in 2019, but increased its tally to 106 after it wrested the Pandharpur Assembly seat from the NCP in a byelection. 

There are 13 Independents in the House. One of them - Rajendra Patil Yedrawkar - is a minister in the MVA government from the Shiv Sena quota.

Similarly, Shankarrao Gadakh, the Krantikari Shetkari Paksh MLA from Nevasa, and Bachu Kadu of the Prahar Janshakti Party are also ministers from the Shiv Sena quota. 

The Prahar Janshakti Party has two MLAs in the House.

Of the 13 Independents, six are supporters of BJP, five have backed Shiv Sena, while Congress and NCP enjoy the support of one Independent each.

Vinay Kore (Jansurajya Shakti Party) and Ratnakar Gutte (Rashtriya Samaj Paksh) are also BJP's supporters.

Besides, Devendra Bhuyar (Swabhimani Paksh) and Shyamsunder Shinde (PWP) are NCP's supporters.

‘Some BJP MLAs Meeting Eknath Shinde ‘

Mumbai: Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil on Tuesday said some MLAs of the BJP will meet Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde camping in a Surat hotel in their "personal capacity" even as he distanced his party from the ongoing political turmoil.       

Patil also said if BJP receives any proposal from Eknath Shinde to form a government, they would "definitely consider it".

He admitted that BJP MLA from Maharashtra, Sanjay Kute, had met Shinde.

Addressing a press conference against the backdrop of Shinde and some Sena MLAs going incommunicado and moving to a hotel in Surat, Patil said the next 24 hours will be crucial and that the BJP is closely watching the developments.

“BJP MLA Sanjay Kute from Maharashtra met Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde in Surat in his personal capacity. The BJP has nothing to do with the ongoing developments. Shinde's decision is not part of any game plan of the BJP,” Patil said.

Surat Hotel Turns Into Fortress

Surat: A luxury hotel has become the focus of all attention as it is currently hosting dissident Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde and some rebel party MLAs, and the property has been turned into a virtual fortress with nearly 400 policemen guarding it since early Tuesday morning.

While guests who had arrived earlier are leaving one by one, sources revealed that the hotel, situated on Dumas Road of the diamond city, has stopped accepting new bookings for an indefinite period.

Apart from the outer campus of the hotel, policemen are also deployed inside the hotel, especially on the floor where these 'rebel leaders' are staying.

Since morning, DCP-level officers were seen visiting the premises at regular intervals and giving necessary instructions to on-duty police personnel.

While no outsider or visitor is permitted to enter the hotel premises, staffers are allowed inside only after checking their IDs and taking permission from authorities concerned.

A large group of journalists and camera persons are camping outside the hotel to gather news on the dramatic political developments connected to Maharashtra, where the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) ruling coalition is battling its worst crisis since coming to power in November 2019.

(Inputs from PTI)

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