In a major development to the spiralling Maharashtra political crisis, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Tuesday night and sought a floor test in the assembly as the BJP looks to recapture power in the state with the help of rebel Eknath Shinde.
Fadnavis, the Leader of the Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, headed straight to Raj Bhavan after returning from Delhi where he met Union minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda to discuss the party’s next course of action.
He claimed that the MVA coalition seemed to be in the minority as 39 Shiv Sena MLAs who belong to the Eknath Shinde camp have said they do not want to be with the government. “We have given a letter to the Maharashtra Governor demanding an immediate floor test. I expect him to act and ask the government to prove the numbers. Shiv Sena MLAs are out of Mumbai and have been saying ‘we don’t want to be with MVA’. I urged the Governor to ask CM (Uddhav Thackeray) to prove numbers (in the assembly),” Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai after meeting the Governor.
Fadnavis, who was Uddhav’s predecessor, was accompanied by BJP leaders Chandrakant Patil, Ashish Shelar, Pravin Darekar, Girish Mahajan and Shrikant Bharatiya to the Raj Bhavan.
Earlier in the day, Fadnavis, who was in Delhi to strategise the BJP’s course of action amid the political tussle, was joined by BJP MP and senior lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani in the meeting with the home minister, sources said. They are believed to have explored various options available for the party and deliberated on their legal feasibility.
After meeting Shah, Fadnavis drove to Nadda’s residence and briefed him about the unfolding political developments in the western state.
Meanwhile, eight independent MLAs have sent an email to the Maharashtra Governor, demanding a floor test at the earliest, sources said.
What BJP stated in the letter
The letter by Fadnavis to the Governor mentioned that internal dissent has risen in Shiv Sena in the last 8-9 days and they don’t want an alliance with the NCP and Congress. The letter stated that 39 Shiv Sena MLAs want the MVA alliance to end. “So CM Uddhav Thackeray has lost the majority in the Legislative Assembly,” it said.
On the other hand, these MLAs are being threatened. “Sanjay Raut openly said that their dead bodies will return from Guwahati. Other leaders of Shiv Sena are also using such threatening language. We have appended the proof of it all,” the letter read.
It further stated that in a parliamentary democracy, the majority is of utmost importance and without it, the government can’t exist. “So the CM should be asked to immediately prove its majority, it is my request to the Governor,” the letter said.
Eknath Shinde, the Shiv Sena strongman whose rebellion has brought the Uddhav-led MVA government to the brink of collapse, is in Assam with over 40 MLAs. His main grouse was Shiv Sena snapping ties with former ally BJP and joining hands with traditional adversaries NCP and Congress. Claiming themselves as the ‘real Shiv Sainkis’, the rebels have demanded that Uddhav cut off the alliance with NCP and Congress, and renew ties with BJP.
Uddhav’s second appeal to rebels
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackray struck a re-conciliatory note a day after stripping Shinde and other rebel MLAs of their portfolios, and appealed to the dissidents to return to Mumbai and talk to him, saying it’s not “too late”.
“It is not too late. I appeal to you to return and sit with me and remove the confusion (created by your actions) among Shiv Sainiks and the public,” a statement by Thackeray’s aide quoted him as saying. “If you return and face me, some way could be found. As the party president and family head, I still care for you,” he said.
Thackeray’s offer to mend fences comes against the backdrop of controversial statements made by some Shiv Sena leaders, especially Sanjay Raut whose “40 bodies without soul” statement had caused a flutter.
(With PTI inputs)