Eknath Shinde is the famous Sena leader of Thane
Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde camped in Surat with 21 MLAs and two more MLAs joined tonight before they flew to Guwahati. Mr Sind is at the centre of a deep political crisis in Maharashtra.
Here’s a 10-point guide to the big story:
- The move to shift Eknath Shinde and his focus to Guwahati came shortly after his phone conversation with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who later assured party leaders that the rebels would return to the field.
- “We are trying to understand what Eknath Shinde needs. They will be back. All priorities will be with us soon. NCP and Congress are with us,” the source said.
- Mr Thackeray had asked Mr Hind to reconsider and return to the party. The source said Mr Sind had asked Senna to restore his alliance with the BJP and rule the state.
- “Now, some people say it should join the BJP. How do we go together? We have suffered with them before. Why go with them now,” Mr Thackeray was quoted as saying at the gathering by the source.
- Mr Sind and his G-22s were held only in BJP-ruled states – Gujarat and now Assam – revealing the behind-the-scenes operation of the insurgency. Maharashtra’s BJP chairman Chandrakant Patil said the party was willing to form a government with Mr Sind.
- Veteran politician and National Party Congress president Sharad Pawar – part of Maharashtra’s ruling coalition – said the crisis was “Senna’s internal affair”. Amid speculation about his own role and whether he may have played a role in the crisis, Mr Pawar also said he remained fully committed to a three-party government.
- Maharashtra’s crisis is reportedly due largely to former BJP chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who spent the day in Delhi and met party bosses Amit Shah. Mr. Fadnavis is believed to have contributed to Mr. Shinde’s relocation to Surat.
- However, the crisis was reportedly sparked by Mr Thackeray’s condemnation of Mr Sind last night after the Senna MLA cross-voted the BJP in yesterday’s crucial election. Their actions meant the BJP won five out of 10 seats (though its own figures gave the party four). Earlier today, Mr Shinde was removed from his role as chief whip and retaliated by editing his Twitter bio to remove references to his Shiv Sena role.
- Mr Hind has also been concerned about the growing importance of Sanjay Laut within Senna, who is seen as a key aide to Mr Thackeray. Today, it is the same Mr. Lauter who leads Senna’s PR campaign, who describes the crisis as one that can be defused, while Mr. Hinde describes him as a “Senna loyalist”.
- To replace Mr Thackeray and win a vote of confidence – if that happens – the BJP needs 37 MLAs in addition to its own 106. Without the G-22, Mr Thackeray’s government is dangerously close to a majority of 133 (Senna has 34 without the G-22).