Pic: Shinde’s supporters outside his residence in Thane on Saturday
In an attempt to lay his cards bare, Eknath Shinde on Saturday tweeted: “Shiv Sena workers must understand that I want to free the party and its workers from the clutches of the MVA government and I have been working for the same. This battle is for the betterment of the party and its workers.”
Watch Tweet here:
Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar, speaking on behalf of the rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, said that the MLAs are still a part of the Shiv Sena and would be setting up a separate block of the party. “We are not going to merge with anyone. We will be setting up a separate block of the party. I have always told the CM that the Sena needs to be with the BJP. The synergy between a BJP Prime Minister and the state CM is important for the development of the state.”
Referring to incidents of attacks on offices and residences of rebel MLAs in Maharashtra, he added: “We do not feel safe to return as no action is being taken against the perpetrators.”
Pockets of the state reported incidents of arson and vandalism at offices and property of some rebel MLAs. In Katraj on the outskirts of Pune, a group of workers barged into the Bhairavnath Sugar Works office of Tanaji Sawant, who is currently in Guwahati.
Shiv Sena corporator Vishal Dhanawade, who was part of the action reportedly stated: “The ransacking of Sawant’s office is just the beginning and the offices of every traitor (rebel MLA) will be destroyed in the coming days.” Fearing escalation of tension, the Mumbai Police has imposed the capital city under Section 144 till July 10.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Speaker of Maharashtra Assembly issued a disqualification notice to 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs of the Eknath Shinde camp who are currently camping in Guwahati. They have been given time till June 27 to file their written replies.
The rebel camp has declared the disqualification illegal since it was issued by the Deputy Speaker and not the Speaker. However, former principal secretary to Vidhan Bhavan, Dr Anant Kalse, said: “Article 180 of the Constitution has clearly stated that the deputy speaker of the Legislative Assembly can take decisions if the post of the speaker is vacant. I am not sure the demand of these independents can stand in the court.”
The post of the Assembly speaker has been lying vacant since February 2021 when Congress leader Nana Patole was appointed as the party’s state unit chief.
Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal has, in the meanwhile, approved appointment of Ajay Chaudhary in place of Eknath Shinde as the party’s new group leader in the House.