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Mumbai to Guwahati Via Surat & SC: The Pit Stops and Twists in Shinde's Race to Replace Uddhav Thackeray

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: June 28, 2022, 17:06 IST

Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde interacts with supporting MLAs at a luxury hotel, in Guwahati on June 23, 2022. (PTI)

Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde interacts with supporting MLAs at a luxury hotel, in Guwahati on June 23, 2022. (PTI)

As Maharashtra awaits the likely possibility of a floor test, News18.com lays out a blow-by-blow account of how the saga started with the shocking results in MLC elections a week ago

Exactly one week after Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde raised the banner of revolt against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the Maharashtra political crisis has made one round of the Assembly and the Supreme Court. The rebel MLAs are protected from disqualification till July 11 and Shinde has announced that he would return to Mumbai soon.

Uddhav Thackeray has issued another appeal for talks with the rebel faction, but hasn’t yet spelled out his stand on Shinde’s demand to end the alliance with NCP and Congress.

As the state awaits the likely possibility of a floor test, News18.com lays out a blow-by-blow account of how the saga started with the shocking results in MLC elections.

June 20: The Trigger

  • The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi faces a setback in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls. The opposition BJP wins all five seats it contested, while Congress candidate and Dalit leader Chandrakant Handore loses. Two candidates win from Shiv Sena and NCP each, while Congress manages to bag just one seat.
  • Uddhav Thackeray government is pushed to the danger zone as BJP secures 134 votes in the 288-member Assembly where the majority mark is 145. The Sena-NCP-Congress support erodes to 151 from 169.

June 21: Surat Shocker

  • In early morning shocker for the Thackerays, it emerges that Eknath Shinde along with 11 MLAs flew to Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat the previous evening. He is said to be camping at the Le Meridien hotel in the city. The MLA strength with Shinde is the exact number the BJP needs to topple the Uddhav Thackeray government. By 11am, Shinde’s strength swells to 25 MLAs.
  • In an oblique explanation of his move, Shinde invokes Sena patriarchs Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe. “We are Balasaheb (Thackeray)’s staunch Shiv Sainiks. Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva. We have never and will never compromise on the teachings of Balasaheb and ‘dharmaveer’ Anand Dighe for power,” he says in Marathi.
  • Speculation swings between Shinde’s desire to be Maharashtra CM and opposition to Sena’s alliance with the NCP and Congress. NCP chief Sharad Pawar says he was unaware of Shinde’s ambitions and Congress deputes Kamal Nath as special observer.

June 22: Guwahati Gamble

  • Around 4am, Shinde and the rebel MLAs with him, by now said to number around 35, board a chartered flight to Guwahati in BJP-governed Assam. At the Surat airport, Shinde says, “The Sena MLAs and I wish that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray forms a government in alliance with the BJP. I have not quit the party.”
  • At the Guwahati airport, the Shinde camp is received by BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das and MLA Sushanta Borgohain. Shinde along with 32 Sena MLAs and seven other legislators moves into Radisson Blu hotel on the outskirts of the city. State police take over from the hotel’s private security.
  • Speaking to reporters, Shinde says, “Thirty-nine other MLAs accompanied me. We are loyal to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of ‘Hindutva’ and we are keen to take it forward.” Asked why he chose BJP-ruled Assam, Shinde says: “It is a nice place.”
  • Two Sena MLAs – Kailas Patil from Osmanabad and Nitin Deshmukh from Akola – claim they made a dramatic escape from the rebel camp while being taken to Surat.
  • Shiv Sena asks all party MLAs to attend legislature party meeting in Mumbai at 5pm. Reports claim less than 20 MLAs attended the meeting.
  • Amid the political crisis, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, 80, tests positive for Covid-19 and its admitted to hospital for treatment. A few hours later, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is also announced to be Covid-positive.
  • Breaking his silence in an evening message to the rebels, an emotional Uddhav Thackeray says he is ready to quit the CM’s post. “Why make statements from Surat and other places? Come and tell me to my face that I am incompetent to handle the posts of chief minister and Shiv Sena president. I will resign immediately,” Thackeray says a 17-minute-long webcast. He leaves official residence ‘Varsha’ for family home ‘Matoshree’.

June 23: An Ultimatum

  • Shiv Sena MP and chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut makes conditional offer to the rebels. “We are ready to walk out of the MVA, provided the rebels return to Mumbai within 24 hours and hold discussions with the Shiv Sena,” Raut says. NCP and Congress leaders claim the government is stable but reports say the parties are upset at Raut’s statement.
  • West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee says Shinde’s rebellion is BJP’s “ploy” to garner numbers for the Presidential Elections. Her party workers stage protests outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati.
  • Eknath Shinde releases videos and photographs claiming that he has the support of 41 MLAs. Media reports say 70 rooms at the Radisson Blu have been booked for seven days.
  • Shinde is removed as the Shiv Sena Legislative Party Leader and replaced with Ajay Chaudhri, which the Deputy Speaker accepts. Shinde camp cries foul.

June 24: Action Shifts to Assembly

  • Shiv Sena files a petition with Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, seeking to disqualify 12 MLAs supporting Shinde’s rebellion. The disqualification is sought for flouting the Sena’s whip to attend a meeting of party legislators on June 22.
  • Claiming the support of 37 Sena MLAs, rebel leader Shinde terms the Sena’s move “illegal” and says whips can be issued only for voting in the Assembly and not for attending meetings. Shinde also denies meeting any BJP leaders in Assam.
  • The rebel group submits a list of 37 MLAs to Deputy Speaker Zirwal. Attached with the list are two resolutions stating that — Shinde continues to be the chief of Shiv Sena Legislative Party and that MLA Bharat Gogavale has been appointed new Chief Whip
  • As Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis camps in New Delhi, BJP maintains the rebellion is Sena’s “internal issue” and rejects allegation of “engineering” the crisis.
  • Focus shifts to the anti-defection law and likely tussle for Shiv Sena’s name and election symbol as Uddhav Thackeray dares the rebels to win elections “without using the name of Shiv Sena or the Thackerays”.

June 25: Legacy War

  • Reports say Eknath Shinde’s camp has decided to rename itself ‘Shiv Sena-Balasaheb Thackeray Group’. A livid Uddhav Thackeray, presiding over a meeting of the Shiv Sena’s national executive, says: “Don’t invoke my Dad’s name, use your father’s name, to win the elections.”
  • Incidents of violence and vandalism are reported in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur, Satara and Parbhani by alleged Shiv Sainiks protesting at their local MLAs joining the rebel group. Mumbai Police extends prohibitory orders originally issued for Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council till July 10, banning the assembly of 5 or more persons
  • Rebel MLAs allege that the security cover of 16 legislators camping in Guwahati has been abruptly withdrawn, terming it an illegal move arising out of vendetta. In response, Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil says “nobody’s security cover has been withdrawn”.
  • Maharashtra legislature secretariat issues summons to 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, including Shinde, seeking written replies by the evening of June 27 to the complaints seeking their disqualification. The summons are sent to all 16 MLAs named by Shiv Sena’s chief whip Sunil Prabhu in a letter.

June 26: Onto the Supreme Court

  • Eknath Shinde moves the Supreme Court challenging the disqualification notices issued to 16 party MLAs and against the appointment of Ajay Choudhari as Shiv Sena Legislature Party leader.
  • Maharashtra minister and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s son Aditya Thackeray claims his father had offered the CM’s post to Eknath Shinde on May 20. “However, at that time, Shinde had dilly-dallied, was evasive and did not give a proper response… I had heard of some murky goings-on… Exactly a month later on June 20, Shinde and his group started the rebellion in the party.”
  • In another setback for the Thackerays, minister Uday Samant, who had been part of the brainstorming sessions post Shinde’s rebellion, joins the rebels in Guwahati via Surat.
  • The Union government decides to provide ‘Y+’ category security cover of armed CRPF personnel to 15 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.
  • Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari recovers from Covid-19 and returns to the Raj Bhavan.

June 27: Interim Win for Rebels

  • Supreme Court grants relief to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, says no decision should be taken on their disqualification till July 11. Asked by the top court why they didn’t approach the Bombay High Court, the Shinde camp cites “threat to life”
  • A week into the unprecedented political crisis, CM Uddhav Thackeray strips all nine rebel ministers of their portfolios and allocates them to other existing ministers. Eknath Shinde’s Urban Development and Public Works portfolios are allocated to Subhash Desai.
  • Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut is summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a prevention of money laundering case pertaining to the Rs 1,034 crore Patra chawl land scam. Raut takes to Twitter to allege that he is being victimised on the instructions of the Centre amid the political upheavel in Maharashtra.

June 28: Shinde’s Dare, Uddhav’s Overture

  • Eknath Shinde says he will soon return to Mumbai and dismisses Shiv Sena’s claim that as many as 20 MLAs of his group are in touch with the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction. Talking to reporters outside the Radisson Blu in Guwahati, Shinde says he has the support of 50 MLAs.
  • Uddhav Thackeray appeals to rebel MLAs to return to Mumbai for talks. “It is not too late. I appeal to you to return and sit with me and remove the confusion among Shiv Sainiks and the public,” a statement by Thackeray’s aide quotes him as saying. “If you return and face me, some way could be found. As party president and family head, I still care for you,” he said.
  • BJP leader and former CM Devendra Fadnavis makes another trip to Delhi to discuss the situation with the party’s central leadership.
  • ED issues fresh summons to Sanjay Raut, asking him to appear on July 1 for questioning in a money laundering case linked to alleged irregularities in the re-development of a Mumbai ‘chawl’. The Rajya Sabha member was issued the first summons for June 28, but he sought more time citing official commitments.

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first published:June 28, 2022, 17:06 IST
last updated:June 28, 2022, 17:06 IST