Uddhav Thackeray | Photo: PTI
Mumbai: The trouble of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra has intensified further as over 15 Shiv Sena MLAs have become "unreachable" on Tuesday.
According to sources, a day after suspected cross-voting in Maharashtra MLC polls, prominent Shiv Sena leader and state cabinet minister Eknath Shinde has reportedly gone inaccessible with several party MLAs. Sources said the MLAs moved to a hotel in Surat in Gujarat.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut also confirmed the developments and said, "Some MLAs of Shiv Sena and Eknath Shinde are currently not reachable. Efforts are being made to topple the MVA government but BJP has to remember that Maharashtra is very different from Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh."
"I know Eknath Shinde Ji, he is a true Shiv Sainik. He will return without any conditions. I have heard that our MLAs are in Surat, Gujarat and they are not being allowed to leave. But they will certainly return as all of them are dedicated to Shiv Sena. I trust that all our MLAs will return and everything will be fine," stated Raut.
Raut said that the party is in touch with the inaccessible MLAs. Discussions are also underway with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar.
"We are in touch with our MLAs who are in Surat now. We are discussing the situation with Uddhav Thackeray Ji and Pawar Sahib. Those working with the thought that they are kingmakers will be unsuccessful," he added.
Shinde is a big shot in Shiv Sena and has been instrumental in strengthening the organisation in the Thane region.
A Bal Thackeray loyalist Eknath Shinde, who is reportedly upset with the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government will be addressing a press conference in Surat today, sources said.The developments may certainly add a web of worries to the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called an urgent meeting of all Shiv Sena MLAs on Tuesday. All MLAs have been strictly asked to remain present in the meeting, said sources.Shinde was made the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 2014 after the Shiv Sena parted ways with the BJP. He was appointed as a cabinet minister in the MVA government.
However, sources said Shinde has been feeling sidelined since the formation of the MVA government. His son Shrikant Shinde represents the Kalyan Lok Sabha seat.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders met at party leader Balasaheb Thorat's official residence, Royal Stone bungalow in Mumbai. Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan also attended the meeting.
"BJP misuses its power. They are taking the Indian democracy towards untruthfulness. I am sure the truth will win. I have called a meeting of all Maharashtra Congress leaders today," said Maharashtra Congress leader Nana Patole.
On the other hand, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil took a potshot on Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and said the political turmoil came up due to Raut.
"Problems have cropped up in their party only due to instigating statements of Sanjay Raut. People will not tolerate it. Eknath Shinde's rebellion is an example. Sanjay Raut should speak politely. He does not need to speak harshly on every matter. When Nana Patole spoke about the Centre's intervention in Vidhan Parishad, I said that a script needs to be prepared after loss and he had already prepared it. Similarly, Sanjay Raut is writing the script of this rebellion (Eknath Shinde's)," Chandrakant Patil told ANI.
Asked about Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis' visit to Delhi, Patil said, "It is our tradition that we need to go to our national leaders with sweets, after winning an election. Devendra Fadnavis has gone to distribute sweets among our party leaders in Delhi."
The Maharashtra BJP chief said his party is observing all the developments minutely.
"We are minutely observing the turn of events. It is a little premature to say that it will lead to any changes. It is a handle-with-care situation. We have to see it very keenly. We are observing all situations," he said.
Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said the BJP is the largest party in Maharashtra and Devendra Fadnavis is the popular leader. He emphasised that the MVA government sid not work for the people hence it is his party's duty to set things right.
"Whatever is right for the people of Maharashtra will be done. People's interest is more important than the power. If it is needed for Maharashtra such a movement can take place. BJP is the largest party here and Devendra Fadnavis a popular leader. What did the MVA government do in 2.5 years? It is our duty to set things right. We care for Maharashtra, they care about power," Darekar told ANI when asked about speculations that BJP will soon stake claims to form government in the state.
"MVA government could not do anything in the public interest. People and public representatives are dissatisfied. In MLC polls all 5 of our candidates won. This is not only Devendra Fadnavis' strategy but people are also dissatisfied with the government," he added.
BJP bagged five seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena won two each while Congress was able to clinch one seat out of the total 10 seats in Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) that went to polls on Monday.
MVA candidate from Congress Chandrakant Handore had lost in the MLC polls.
Taking to Twitter, BJP leader Kirit Somaiya said, "Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad election results - Shiv Sena (Mafia Sena) got 52 votes. 12 MLA's revolted (55 Shiv Sena + 9 supporters = 64) Uddhav Thackeray's Mafia Sarkar's count down started."
As many as eleven candidates were in the fray for the elections to the ten seats in the MLC. All the five candidates of the BJP -- Pravin Darekar, Ram Shinde, Shrikant Bharatiya, Uma Khapre and Prasad Lad emerged victorious. NCP candidates-- Ramraje Nimbalkar and Eknath Khadse-- and the Shiv Sena nominees- Aamshya Padavi and Sachin Ahir also secured their seats. Of the two candidates fielded by Congress, Bhai Jagtap secured the win while Chandrakant Handore lost.
BJP's winning candidate claimed that cross-voting happened among members of Shiv Sena and Congress.
"We are very happy. Maharashtra has shown faith in the BJP. Cross-voting happened among members of Shiv Sena and Congress. Otherwise, we would not have received so many votes. BJP will get more victory and received 134 votes," said BJP leader Pravin Darekar.
The BJP has 106 MLAs, Shiv Sena 56, NCP 53 and Congress has 44 MLAs. A total of 285 members cast their votes in the MLC polls.
Former Home Ministers Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, who are in judicial custody in money-laundering cases were not allowed to vote.