Aghadi allies back Uddhav but Eknath Shinde’s camp grows in number | Top points

A day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s address to Shiv Sainiks, more MLAs left for Guwahati to join the rebel camp led by minister Eknath Shinde. The senior Sena leader now claims to have over 40 MLAs on his side — including the independent MLAs — to buck the anti-defection law.

Top sources in the Eknath Shinde camp told India Today that he will muster the numbers to show that he enjoys the support of a two-thirds majority in the Shiv Sena. Shinde is also likely to approach the Governor to prove the number. The Governor will then ask Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority, a move that might lead to the collapse of the MVA government in Maharashtra.

Here are the top developments of the day.

1) Eknath Shinde and all the rebel MLAs were seen together for the first time on Thursday, in a new video, in which Shinde stated that a big national party lauded his “historic decision” to rebel against his party. The national party has assured us of all support, Shinde said in Marathi, alluding to the BJP.

2) As Uddhav Thackeray firefights, its coalition partners NCP and Congress held meetings today and decided to stand by the chief minister, who had moved out of his official residence yesterday. Deputy CM Ajit Pawar said that the NCP will back CM Thackeray and the MVA government amid the ongoing crisis.

3) NCP chief Sharad Pawar too echoed the same sentiments when he stated that the coalition government is not yet in a majority and the fate of the two-and-a-half-year old government will be decided in the Assembly.

READ | Why MVA coalition has always looked fragile

4) Maharashtra PWD minister Ashok Chavan of the Congress said his party’s support will continue. Asked whether the MVA was ready for a floor test, Chavan said a decision in this regard will have to be taken by the three allies who constitute the ruling alliance.

5) Meanwhile, in his first response to Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal to rebel MLAs to return to Mumbai, Eknath Shinde tweeted a three-page letter claiming this is what the MLAs wanted.

“The doors of the CM’s residence were closed to us for the last 2.5 years. The CM never used to be in the Secretariat, instead, he used to be in Matoshree [Thackeray’s residence]. We used to call people around the CM but they never used to attend our calls. We were fed up with all these things and persuaded Eknath Shinde to take this step,” it read.

6) Amidst all this, Sena leader Sanjay Raut claimed that the party would consider parting ways with the MVA if the rebel MLAs returned to Mumbai in 24 hours. He said all demands would be considered. This statement did not go down with the NCP and Congress, who stated that it is the responsibility of all parties in the coalition to try and save the government.

7) On Thursday morning, TMC leaders led by Ripun Bora protested against the Assam government for facilitating dissidents from Maharashtra when people were dying in the devastating floods in the state. They were detained while staging a protest outside the hotel where rebel Sena MLAs are staying.

ALSO READ | Uddhav, Raj and now Eknath Shinde – who will win the battle for Balasaheb’s legacy?

8) The current political crisis was triggered by Eknath Shinde, who, along with several MLAs, went incommunicado after the MLC poll results. The rebel MLAs led by Shinde reached a hotel in Surat on late Monday night, hours after the polls which saw the BJP winning a fifth seat despite not having enough numbers in the Assembly. Some Shiv Sena and Congress MLAs reportedly voted in favour of BJP candidates.

9) The total strength of the Maharashtra Assembly is 287 and the majority, in the event of a trust vote, is 144. The ruling coalition of Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress has 169 seats. If the MLAs led by Shinde do resign, then the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s (MVA) strength will fall below the majority mark, leading to a possible collapse of Uddhav Thackeray-led government.

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