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‘Dissolution should not be 1st option’ — NCP ‘miffed’ but MVA partners back Sena amid rebellion

Maharashtra's MVA government has plunged into crisis with state urban development minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde rebelling with a bunch of party MLAs.

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Mumbai: The Shiv Sena’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners NCP and Congress are not in favour of dissolution of the Maharashtra assembly mid-term as the state government faces an existential crisis following a rebellion by Sena MLA Eknath Shinde.

This consensus emerged at a meeting of NCP MLAs and ministers with party chief Sharad Pawar, where the discussions are learnt to have suggested that “dissolution was not considered a wise idea”.

Congress leader Kamal Nath, appointed the party’s “observer” for the crisis”, later said Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had also told him that there was no proposal to dissolve the assembly.

The prospect of dissolving the assembly was hinted at by Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in a tweet Wednesday.

The Shiv Sena had Wednesday issued a whip to its MLAs asking them to attend a legislature party meeting called by the CM — or face action under the anti-defection law. A letter for the same was issued by party chief whip Sunil Prabhu, but the meeting was later cancelled.

The MVA crisis started after state urban development minister and senior Sena leader Eknath Shinde shifted to Gujarat and then Assam with some MLAs, and claimed to have the support of 45-46 of the party’s 55 MLAs.

At least 34 MLAs from the rebel camp, including four Independents, have passed a resolution naming Shinde as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party, expressing unhappiness “about corruption in the government and administration”. However, Shinde’s faction needs at least 37 Sena MLAs to beat the anti-defection law.

The NCP has expressed displeasure with the Sena for not keeping its house in order, while the Congress has told Thackeray to explore options on how to handle the crisis.

NCP leader and state cabinet minister Hasan Mushrif told ThePrint: “The Shiv Sena could not keep its MLAs safe, while the NCP protected its own. Dissolution should not be the first option as the assembly still has more than two years to go.”

The Shiv Sena, meanwhile, is hoping the rebel MLAs return to the fold, especially in light of Thackeray’s emotional speech Wednesday, where he said he was ready to resign as CM if the legislators so desired.


Also read: Who’s Eknath Shinde? Former auto driver threatening to topple MVA, become ‘Maharashtra’s Scindia’


Congress, NCP pledge support

According to Mushrif, “there were cracks in the MVA alliance but the present crisis has erupted due to the inability of the Shiv Sena to hold its MLAs together”.

“The crisis has not arisen due to the BJP. The NCP flock is intact, there is no dissent among our MLAs. It is up to the Sena to resolve this crisis,” he said.

On dissolution of the assembly, the NCP said the Maharashtra governor would in any case not accept such a recommendation from a minority government.

The 288-member Maharashtra assembly has 44 Congress MLAs, 53 from NCP, 55 from the Shiv Sena and 106 from the BJP. The rest comprise smaller parties and Independents.

Congress strategist Kamal Nath, who met Pawar for more than an hour Wednesday, told the media that the “Congress and the NCP are supporting Shiv Sena in this crisis”.

“We are supporting his (Thackeray’s) government and we have assured that Congress MLAs would continue to support him. I had a word with the CM and asked him about any proposal about dissolution of assembly, but he said there was no such proposal right now.”

On Monday, elections to 10 legislative council seats in the state were held, in which the BJP won five seats by securing votes from Independents and smaller parties, besides some allegedly from the MVA camp. Many Sena MLAs are believed to have cross-voted.

An earlier version of the report said 34 Shiv Sena MLAs had passed a resolution naming Eknath Shinde as the leader of the legislature party. However, these 34 included 4 Independents. The error is regretted.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)


Also read: ‘Power can come and go…party’s reputation paramount’ — Sena’s Raut hints at assembly dissolution


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