In yet another emotional appeal to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs stationed in Guwahati, party president and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said he still cared for them and was ready to find a way out of the present situation by talking to them personally.
Meanwhile, in a significant development, a BJP delegation led by Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, along with senior leaders Ashish Shelar, Chandrakant Patil and Pravin Darekar, late on Tuesday night met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and raised the demand to ask the Thackeray government to prove majority at the earliest.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Fadnavis said, “Around 39 Shiv Sena MLAs have stated that they no longer want to remain with the Maha Vikas Aghadi [MVA] government. It means that the present government has lost its majority in the House. We requested the Governor to call an Assembly session at the earliest.”
The meeting happens few hours after Mr. Fadnavis returned from Delhi after holding talks with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda.
“I appeal to all of you to come and sit in front of me and clarify all confusion from the minds of Sena workers and people. There will surely be a way out and we will do it together. Do not fall prey to anyone’s false promises,” said Mr. Thackeray in an appeal to rebel MLAs.
As many as 39 MLAs have joined rebel leader and party’s second-in-command Eknath Shinde. The group is demanding that Mr. Thackeray quit the MVA coalition comprising the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress. The group is demanding that the Sena form the government with the BJP.
“You are stuck in Guwahati for the last few days and every day new information about you is coming out. Many of you are in touch with us and you are still a shivsainik by heart,” Mr. Thackeray said, adding that family members of many MLAs had conveyed their feelings to him and he respected those as head of the Shiv Sena.
To counter Mr. Thackeray’s statement that many of the MLAs were still in touch with the party, the rebel group leader Mr. Shinde challenged to name those MLAs. Throughout the day, the MLAs of the group released videos claiming that they were not in touch with any other leader and would follow Mr. Shinde.
The BJP, which still has been claiming that it has nothing to do with the internal feud, has reportedly called all its MLAs and affiliated independents to Mumbai on Wednesday.
Earlier, Mr. Fadnavis met with Mr. Shah and Mr. Nadda in New Delhi amid the unfolding crisis in the MVA government. According to sources in the BJP, Mr. Fadnavis, accompanied by lawyer and MP Mahesh Jethmalani and a couple of leaders first met with Mr. Shah and later called on Mr. Nadda. “Legal and political angles to the crisis in Maharashtra were discussed and the options before the party were gone over with a fine-tooth comb,” said a senior leader who did not wish to be named.
The BJP has been claiming that it has the support of 169 MLAs and the majority in the Assembly after a large section of the Shiv Sena’s Legislature Party led by Mr. Shinde revolted against the Uddhav Thackeray government and first went to Surat and later to Guwahati to declare that they were moving away from the Thackeray-led Sena. The Supreme Court had on Monday kept in abeyance the disqualification proceedings against 16 Sena MLAs of the Shinde camp, pending before the Deputy Speaker.
“The BJP is very clear that no step will be taken unless and until all is clear with regard to the endgames of every scenario,” said a senior leader.
(With inputs from Nistula Hebbar)