Eknath Shinde, a top Shiv Sena politician and Maharashtra’s Minister of Urban Development and Public Works, has gone missing, along with two dozen or so Sena MLAs, a day after the Bharatiya Janata Party won five of the ten Legislative Council seats despite having insufficient numbers.
Former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis had launched Operation Lotus with ShivSena’s EknathShinde in Maharashtra. As many as 29 MLAs are in Gujarat. Buzz is that Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil could play a pivotal role in this mission.
Shinde’s absence has fueled suspicion that the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government is in jeopardy.
Shinde is rumoured to be in Gujarat right now. “We have no idea where he is.” “I am confident that he would come out and make his position clear,” Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said.
The BJP received 133 votes in the 288-seat Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, when it had 106 MLAs. Its triumph over the MVA was aided by an additional 27 votes from minor parties and independents. It needs 12 more MLAs to gain a majority in the legislature.
Eknath Shinde is a four-time MLA from Thane’s Kopri Pachpakhadi and one of the Shiv Sena’s tallest leaders after the Thackerays. Shinde, who is known for being friendly, has amassed a sizable following in the Sena. Thackeray chose him to be the leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra after the Sena’s victory in the 2014 Assembly elections against the BJP. The Sena afterwards allied with the BJP, and Shinde was appointed minister.