Amid the political crisis in Maharashtra with internal rebellion in the Shiv Sena, part of the ruling alliance Maha Vikas Aghadi, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Wednesday he was ready to resign from his post even if one disgruntled MLA told him on face that he did not want Thackeray as CM.
During a Facebook live amid the volatile situation, Thackeray said, “I will quit as chief minister and leave official residence if even one of the disgruntled MLAs says he doesn't want me as CM.”
He further said that the CM Post came to him by accident and he did not yearn for it. “I'm ready to quit as chief minister right now. But can you promise me the next chief minister will be from Shiv Sena?” Thackeray asked in his FB live session.
Underlining the Sena’s commitment to the right-wing Hindutva ideology in view of questions being raised over the organisation’s character being changed from what was founded by Bal Thakeray, the CM said, “Shiv Sena can't be separated from Hindutva.” However, he added, he was ready to quit as Shiv Sena chief too if “those disgruntled MLAs come forward and demand so”.
“Sharad Pawar (NCP) and Kamal Nath (Congress) phoned me saying they want me to continue as chief minister,” Thackeray said, referring to his talks with the two alliance partners. But he also said he was not willing to continue as the chief minister. He even mentioned that he has kept a letter of resignation as chief minister ready.
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs are currently camping in Guwahati under the leadership of senior minister Eknath Shinde. Shinde, who has claimed the support of 46 MLAs, is showing no signs of backing down from his rebellion, which has pushed the two-and-a-half-year old Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) governemnt to the brink. Moreover, party MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut has said the ongoing political developments could lead to dissolution of the state Assembly.
However, countering Shinde’s claims, Thackeray in his live address said, “I am getting calls from MLAs who have gone with Eknath Shinde; they are claiming that they were forcibly taken away.”
Amid the crisis, AICC observer Kamal Nath on Wednesday met NCP president Sharad Pawar in Mumbai. However, after the meeting, Pawar tweeted they talked about the "forthcoming Presidential elections and various other issues". Earlier in the day, Pawar met state NCP president Jayant Patil and state home minister Dilip Walse Patil as well.
A day earlier, Nath was appointed as the AICC observer in Maharashtra in the wake of the political turmoil in the state.
The Congress, which has 44 MLAs in the Assembly, shares power with the Shiv Sena and NCP in the state.
Shinde, who has appointed his own chief whip of the Sena legislature, said he has 46 MLAs supporting him. “I have more numbers (of Shiv Sena MLAs) than needed (to form a separate group in the Assembly without inviting the anti-defection law provisions),” he told a Marathi TV channel.
The Sena has 55 members in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly.
(With inputs from PTI)