Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, reduced to a minority within the Shiv Sena, the party founded by his father Balasaheb Thackeray, has called a national executive meeting today amid rebellion by his minister Eknath Shinde.
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The meeting will be held in Shiv Sena Bhavan and Mr Thackeray, who has contracted Covid, will join virtually. On Friday, Mr Thackeray convened a meeting of the district chiefs in which he said that the rebel MLAs wanted to “break the party”.
“The Sena is not finished” and that people siding with the BJP must be questioned, Mr Thackeray said. “Those who want to leave are free to go openly…. I will create a new Shiv Sena,” he added.
In a virtual address to party corporators, Mr Thackeray also accused the BJP of trying to finish off the Sena. “Shiv Sena is an ideology… BJP wants to finish it off because they don’t want to share the Hindu vote bank with anyone,” he said, adding that late Bal Thackeray had initiated the alliance with the BJP only to avoid a split in Hindutva votes.
Priyanka Chaturvedi, part of Team Uddhav, hit back at Mr Shinde’s claim that the party was diverging from its ideology of Hindutva. “Which Hindutva teaches you to stab your party, which is like a family, in the back?” she said, speaking to NDTV, asserting that ideology is being used as an alibi for the “BJP-backed” rebellion.
Sixteen MLAs who have joined rebel leader Eknath Shinde are likely to be served notices by the party today. The names of these rebel MLAs have already been sent to the Maharashtra Assembly deputy speaker for initiating action of disqualification against them.
“We have given notice against 16 MLAs that they should be sacked. Now they will have to answer why action should not be taken against them. Despite issuing a letter to them, none of them attended party meeting on Wednesday in Mumbai,” Sena MP Arvind Sawant told NDTV.
Despite being reduced to a minority, Team Uddhav is confident that it has the powers to issue whip against the MLAs. The party also said that the claims by the Eknath Shinde camp that is “the real Shiv Sena” has no merit. “The Shiv Sena is a registered regional party and Uddhav Thackeray is our chief. We have a Consitution through which party president is selected,” Advocate Dharam Mishra from Shiv Sena legal cell told NDTV.
Mr Shinde, at the centre of rebellion against Mr Thackeray, has told NDTV that he has the support of more than 50 MLAs. “Nearly 40 of them are from the Shiv Sena,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Mr Shinde, who is camping with the rebels in BJP-ruled Assam, has accused the Sena leadership of being inaccessible to party leaders. On Friday, he put out a video by rebel leader Yamini Jadhav in which she accused the party leadership of not caring for her despite she “suffering from cancer” since October last year. He will chair a meeting with the MLAs today to decide the next strategy.
The rebels are camping at a five-star hotel on the outskirts of Assam’s main city, Guwahati. A young MP, known to be close to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, is the pointsman, sources said, adding at least three Assam BJP ministers are closely overseeing logistical matters at the Guwahati hotel.