Dissident Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde on Saturday alleged that the Maharashtra government has withdrawn the security cover from the homes of 16 rebel legislators, including himself, and labelled the action “political vendetta”. The Maharashtra government, however, promptly denied the charge.
Currently camping in Guwahati with the rebel legislators, Mr Shinde tweeted a letter signed by the 16 MLAs that is addressed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil.
The legislators said Mr Thackeray and the leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance will be responsible if any harm is caused to their family members.
Mr Shinde alleged that the security cover of the 16 rebel Sena legislators was withdrawn on the orders of Mr Thackeray and Mr Walse Patil due to “political vendetta”. “The government is responsible for the security of these legislators,” he added.
“There is an ongoing agenda wherein various leaders of the MVA government are instigating the cadres of their respective parties to take up violence to further intimidate us which is evident from the media reports published on 23.06.2022 at various print and digital publications wherein Mr. Sanjay Raut threatened the Petitioners and the other members by stating that he would make it difficult for the MLAS who have left to return to Maharashtra and move around in the State of Maharashtra,” Mr Shinde’s letter said.
Attaching a link, he cited Mr Raut’s interview to NDTV on Thursday in which the Sena spokesperson had said, “Let all the MLAs come to the floor of the House. We will see then. These MLAs who have left… they will find it difficult to return and move around in Maharashtra.”
The government, however, denied the claims in the letter with Mr Wasle Patil tweeting in Hindi: “Neither the Chief Minister nor the Home Department has ordered the protection of any MLA in the state to be removed. The allegations made on Twitter in this regard are completely wrong and misleading.”
The exchange comes amid a widening revolt in Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Around 40 Shiv Sena MLAs led by minister Eknath Shinde are believed to be holed up in BJP-ruled Assam, challenging Mr Thackeray’s leadership and an alliance with the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The rebels have called for the Shiv Sena to quit the unlikely alliance and partner with the BJP instead – a demand that Mr Thackeray’s camp has said it was willing to consider, even as it moved to have 16 of the dissidents disqualified from the assembly.
According to most counts, Mr Shinde has reached the critical number of MLAs, 37, required to split the party in the assembly without falling foul of the anti-defection law.