Shiv Sena’s senior leader Eknath Shinde’s rebellion against his own party has put the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government on the brink of collapse.
One of the main reasons for Shinde’s rebellion is being seen as his close friendship with BJP leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Shinde claims to have the support of 36 out of the Shiv Sena’s 55 legislators. Camp Shinde, which has the additional support of five Independent MLAs, now is just short of one MLA to split the party without facing disqualification under the anti-defection laws.
According to a Times of India report quoting sources, the current political crisis in Maharashtra shows that Fadnavis has been “cultivating” Shinde and the BJP leader worked on his growing alienation within his own party.
“Fadnavis’ cultivation of Shinde appears to have borne fruit immediately after Fadnavis’ strategy helped the BJP to embarrass the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the Rajya Sabha and legislative council polls this month,” the report added.
An Indian Express report quoting sources, said that since 2015, the Shinde and Fadnavis have moved from being just Cabinet colleagues to close friends and “in 2019, had the Shiv Sena and BJP contested the assembly elections separately, Shinde would have been BJP’s candidate from Thane constituency.”
Shinde ‘stifled’ in Shiv Sena
Further, the source added that Shinde was on a BJP list of probable candidates to be tapped from the Sena before the elections.
But then, unlike in 2014, the Sena and BJP decided to contest the elections as alliance partners in 2019. “As a result, Shinde remained and contested from the Sena,” sources said, according to the report.
According to the newspaper’s sources, the BJP had sensed between 2014 and 2019 that Shinde had higher political aspirations and was feeling “stifled” in the Sena. In 2015, when Fadnavis announced the ₹12,000 crore Nagpur-Mumbai Expressway, he chose Shinde to implement his pet project.
“The BJP’s role in Shinde’s revolt cannot be quantified. It happened because Shinde wished it and had the support within Sena to strike against Thackeray. We (BJP) can take the credit for our ability to build confidence in Shinde. It is not always power, post or money that work. Mass leaders like Shinde look for dignity and respect, which Fadnavis has always given,” a BJP general secretary was quoted as saying in the report.
Thackeray ready to resign
Meanwhile, on a Facebook Live, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asserted that “he will never fight for the chair” in his first address since the state plunged into a political crisis.
“I will resign if even one MLA objects to me as the chief minister. My resignation letter is ready,” Uddhav said.
“Sena MLAs have gone to Surat and Guwahati. If you had a problem with me becoming chief minister, I will resign now. I have no inclination for any post. I have fulfilled my obligations as CM and I am ready to resign,” Uddhav said.
“I will be happy if a Shiv Sainik becomes CM after me. I am ready to quit right now. I am not someone who will fight for a chair. If Sainiks tell me I’m not capable, I will resign,” he said.