In a significant development, a rebel Shiv Sena group led by senior minister Eknath Shinde has claimed the support of 37 of the total 55 legislators elected on the party poll symbol and 7 independents. With this, Team Shinde has claimed that it has made a major gain as they have reached two-third mark of 55 and therefore will be in a position to seek recognition for its group and thereby avoid action under the anti-defection law. On the other hand, Shiv Sena has claimed 13 legislators are with it while about 22 from Team Shinde were in its contact.
Team Shinde released the list of 37 legislators and 7 independents who are currently camping in the Guwahati hotel. Of the 37 MLAs, five are from Thane, Mumbai 4, Aurangabad 5, Jalgaon 4, Raigad 3, Osmanabad 2, Satara 2, Kolhapur 2, Buldhana 2 and one each from Nanded, Palghar, Nashik, Solapur, Sangli, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and Yavatmal. Shinde met all these MLAs and discussed the future course of action. Thereafter, Team Shinde released a video in which Shinde was sitting at the Centre while 44 legislators were sitting in front of him.
A close associate of one of the rebel MLAs told the Fee Press Journal, ‘’Shinde is confident that at least three to five more MLAs will join him and that will give the camp a cushion. This will be legally scrutinised and only after that a concrete representation will be made to the state assembly deputy speaker seeking recognition for its group as real Shiv Sena legislative party. Then Shinde will take a call for its merger with the BJP.’’
Meanwhile, rebel Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat, who is the elected from Aurangabad west assembly seat, in a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said Shinde took the step of going against the party leadership as Sena MLAs, who faced "humilitation" for the last two-and-a-half years, persuaded him to do so.
‘’While the Shiv Sena legislators had no access to the chief minister, the Congress and NCP, which are the "real opponents" of the Sena, were getting all the attention, he claimed in the letter, dated June 22. Incidentally, the Shiv Sena heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with NCP and Congress.
Further, Shirsat said that despite Shiv Sena being in power and having its own chief minister, the coterie around Thackeray never allowed them access to 'Varsha', the CM's official residence. ‘’There was no question of going to 'Mantralaya' because the chief minister never came there, he added.
Hours after Shirsat’s letter was released on social media, Shinde himself tweeted two videos of Shirsat and his letter expressing his support for the former’s argument.
This move came a day after Thackeray in his Facebook live offered to step down as CM and the party president to quell the rebellion.
In the letter, Shirsat said Eknath Shinde opened doors for the party MLAs to listen to their grievances, issues about development work in their constituencies and related fund, and problems with allies Congress and NCP.
"Only Shinde heard us out and took steps to resolve all the problems. The party MLAs persuaded Shinde to take this step (of revolt) for the rights of all the legislators," Shirsat said in the letter.