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Maharashtra political crisis: Hours after offering to quit as CM, Uddhav Thackeray leaves official residence for family home

New Delhi, June 22

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night moved from his official residence in south Mumbai to family home in suburban Bandra, hours after offering to quit the top post amid rebellion by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde.

The CM moved out of ‘Varsha’, his official residence, for ‘Matoshree’, the private bungalow of the Thackeray family, amid high drama as the political crisis that has rocked his government after Shinde’s revolt two days ago, showed no signs of ebbing.

Shiv Sena leaders, including Neelam Gorhe and Chandrakant Khaire, were present at ‘Varsha’ when Thackeray was leaving the official residence.

Party workers raised slogans and showered petals on the CM as he left his official house along with his family members at around 9.50 pm.

Earlier, terming ‘Hindutva’ the essence of the Shiv Sena, Uddav Thackeray said he is ready to resign from the post even if one disgruntled MLA, accusing him of not performing well as Chief Minister or abandoning the ideology (of Hindutva), comes face to face and demands so.

While challenging those opposing him to come and take the resignation letter from him, he also questioned, “How do you know that the next CM will be from the Shiv Sena?” Stating that he was not the one to hanker after the chair, Thackeray said: “Why make statements from Surat and other places? Come to me and say that I am incompetent to handle the posts of chief minister and Shiv Sena president, and I will resign immediately”.

Thackeray, who is facing charges of “diluting the Hindutva ideology of the party and being inaccessible to cadres”, said he accepted the post, despite having no previous experience, on the insistence of NCP chief Sharad Pawar to take forward the legacy of Bal Thackeray.

“I just want the love of my cadres. The post is not important; the love of my people is. Today my own Shiv Sainiks do not want me to continue as CM. I am ready to resign, leave ‘Varsha’ and go to my ‘Matoshri’. I am even ready to quit as Sena president. I will be very happy if some other Shiv Sainik becomes the CM.

“I have my resignation letter ready, come and take it from me,” he said on a day “34 MLAs” wrote to the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Narhari Zirwal backing dissident Eknath Shinde, currently camping in Guwahati and demanding that Sena returns to the BJP-led NDA fold.

According to these 34 MLAs, Shinde is the legislative party leader of the Shiv Sena.

Though BJP claims no hand in Sena’s “internal matters”, sources said former CM Devendra Fadnavis has told party MLAs to remain available, and on the call.

Earlier in the day, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and his daughter Supriya Sule met Thackeray at his residence. Congress leader Kamal Nath assured support to the embattled CM on the day Shinde and his group of supporters (46 plus, according to him) landed in another BJP-ruled state Assam in early hours of Wednesday.

The midnight flight from Surat to Guwahati was believed to have been personally supervised by Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The high drama spanning multiple corners of the country—Mumbai, Surat, Delhi and Guwahati— saw Thackeray putting a brave front at the Cabinet meeting and issuing a whip to Sena MLAs to attend a meeting in the evening, which never happened.

Shinde, who claimed MLAs have not revolted against the party and that their only wish was to form an alliance with the BJP, called the whip “legally invalid”. Though Shinde claimed the support of 46-plus MLAs, he did not specify how many of them are from the Sena.

To avoid the anti-defection law, Shinde needs the support of at least 37 Sena MLAs.

Both the Congress and NCP said their MLAs are intact.

Though Sena leader Sanjay Raut hinted at dissolving the Assembly, allies NCP and Congress are against the move.

Raut said: “At the most what will happen…our government will lose the majority in the state. We can always return to power, but the party’s image is above all”.

Meanwhile, Thackeray’s son and Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray has dropped his ministerial credentials from social media handles

BJP slams ‘Covid-positive Thackeray’

“We were told that Uddhav Thackeray is Covid positive. But he has since met Sharad Pawar at his residence and moved amongst people, who apparently turned out to see him go back home, he shouldn’t have left in the first place.

“This deceit is what has led to Sena MLAs revolting…” BJP IT cell in charge Amit Malviya tweeted

MVA unnatural alliance, only Congress and NCP benefitted: Shinde

Calling the MVA alliance “unnatural”, Shinde said only NCP and Congress benefitted from the tie-up.

“In the last two-and-a-half years, the MVA Government benefited only the constituent parties (NCP and Congress),” he said.

While the constituents got stronger, the Shiv Sainiks and Sena got weaker, he added.

“It is essential to get out of the ‘unnatural’ front for the survival of the party and Shiv Sainiks.

“Decisions need to be taken now in the interest of Maharashtra,” he said.

The number game

The Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA, has 56 MLAs, NCP (54) and Congress (44) in the 288-member Assembly, in which the halfway-mark is 144.

The BJP has 105 MLAs and there are 13 Independents.

Sources say more rebels are en route to join Shinde, who claim he does not want to break the Sena. To do that, he needs the support of at least 37 Sena MLAs.

Among the rebels supporting Shinde, seven are Independents and some belong to smaller parties.

As per the Uddhav camp, of the 34 MLAs pledging support to Shinde, two are from the PJP and two are Independents.

The role of the Speaker and the Governor is critical in such cases.

According to the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, legislators can be disqualified on grounds of defection.

The Anti-Defection Law allows a party to merge with or into another, provided in case at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.

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