Uddhav Thackeray has said he’d quit if rebels came face to face with him and asked for it.
Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar, who is among the latest to join the party’s rebel camp led by Eknath Shinde, said on Thursday morning that the rebels do not want Uddhav Thackeray to resign as Chief Minister of Maharashtra. “Instead, we want him to get into an alliance with the BJP and form a new government with a natural ally,” he told ..
Mr Kesarkar flew to Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam earlier in the morning to join the Shinde camp. He was being seen with the Thackerays till two days ago. Speaking exclusively to . over the phone, he said three Sena MLAs and at least one Independent were with him on the flight. Kesarkar had earlier, too, said that several MLAs told Mr Thackeray to ditch the Congress and NCP to go with the BJP owing to ideological similarities.
He asserted, “There is no time for further delay. People want Shiv Sena to ally with the BJP. All the important ministries are with NCP or Congress.”
“We are not angry with the chief minister. We are angry with the others in the coalition,” Mr Kesarkar said, adding that it would be better for the state to have the same ruling parties as in the Centre.
The Shiv Sena and BJP, both of which profess to Hindutva as part of their ideology, had fought the 2019 assembly election together but the Sena allied with NCP and Congress to form the government after differences arose reportedly over leadership positions. The BJP has, so far, claimed it has nothing to do with the crisis. Mr Kesarkar underlined that the Sena-BJP alliance had been in place for 25 years.
On being seen with the chief minister’s son Aaditya Thackeray two days ago, Mr Kesarkar said, “I told him during that car ride, too, whatever I had to. I said I won’t stay at the hotel (where MLAs were put up) but remain at home as my wife was unwell. He agreed. Yet, party workers misbehaved with me, stopped my car; some men were deployed to keep an eye on me,”
Mr Kesarkar claimed that most of the Sena MLAs are with Eknath Shinde now. Asked whom he considered the party leader between Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde, he said, “We spoke with the chief minister several times. And now he is saying he is ready to resign. But we don’t want his resignation. We want that the state and Centre should have the same regime so that Maharashtra progresses.”
The Shinde camp now apparently has 40 of the party’s 55 MLAs on its side, which means it can stake claim to being the real Shiv Sena as it has the 2/3rd strength required under the anti-defection law.
Mr Kesarkar, speaking about personal ambitions, said he’d been made an offer by the BJP. “Yet, I stayed with the Shiv Sena as I respect the Thackeray family.” He said he had the “best” portfolio for a Minister of State in the previous Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Sena regime, “But I was not even upset at not being made a minister this time.”
He added, “I have taken a decision now. I will not go back on it.”
Meanwhile, Uddhav Thackeray loyalist and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has claimed that the party is still strong and that the rebels are not true “bhakts” (devotees) of Bal Thackeray, the late founder of the party.
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