Other States

Shiv Sena crisis | Balapur MLA Nitin Deshmukh ‘escapes’ from Eknath Shinde camp

Nitin Deshmukh

Nitin Deshmukh | Photo Credit: @DeshmukhNitin29/Twitter

Even as Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde’s intra-party rebellion attracted more MLAs and split the party wide apart, MLA Nitin Deshmukh returned to Maharashtra while alleging a conspiracy on the part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Gujarat authorities to abduct and harm him.

The MLA, whose wife had earlier filed a ‘missing’ complaint with the Akola police, also claimed that a number of MLAs with Mr. Shinde wanted to return to Maharashtra, implying they had been spirited away to Surat under duress.

The MLA from Balapur constituency in Akola (in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region) said that his dramatic return to Maharashtra from Guwahati was akin to “Shivaji’s escape from Aurangzeb’s clutches in Agra”.

“Despite the fact that I am in good health, I was taken to a government hospital in Surat on Tuesday. Then, I saw that the police who brought me there and the doctors were talking something among themselves… I suspected they were trying to harm me. I told the doctor that I have no ailment. He claimed I had a heart attack though my blood pressure remained normal. I sensed their intentions were not right. Then, 15-20 persons caught me and thrust a needle in me,” said Mr. Deshmukh, speaking in Nagpur on his return from Guwahati.

Lambasting the BJP and the Gujarat police, he said that Prakash Abitkar, Sena MLA from Kolhapur, had apparently tried to leave Surat, but was later caught by the Gujarat police and forced to turn back.

“I am leaving for Mumbai to discuss this entire matter with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and then decide on the future course of action,” Mr. Deshmukh said.

Given Mr. Shinde’s claims that a majority of the Sena’s legislators were with him, Mr. Deshmukh pointedly remarked that he was “Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sainik”.

While refusing to divulge details of how he got to Maharashtra, he simply said that he returned to Nagpur in a chartered plane.

He further rejected suggestions that he had signed any resolution form, alleging that his signature and the footage showing him signing were doctored.

Lashing out at the BJP, Mr. Deshmukh said that the party was behind all the turmoil, which was wrongly perceived as being Mr. Shinde’s handiwork.

“I urge all Sena MLAs who are in Guwahati to return. Remember, you all have not become MLAs on your strength but had Balasaheb and Uddhav Thackeray’s blessings. I urge Mr. Shinde to come back… the party does not depend on MLAs but on the strength of ordinary Shiv Sainiks who are firmly behind Uddhav Thackeray,” said Mr. Deshmukh

Quashing suggestions of festering resentment against Mr. Thackeray’s performance as Chief Minister, Mr. Deshmukh said: “What resentment? He [Uddhav Thackeray] did everything that was possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. He waived farmers’ loans and was the most popular Chief Minister in the country. So, where does the question of being disappointed with his performance arise?”

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 8:59:17 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/shiv-sena-crisis-balapur-mla-nitin-deshmukh-escapes-from-eknath-shinde-camp/article65554258.ece