Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray held an urgent meeting at midnight and will chair another meeting with party ministers and legislators at 12 pm today
Shinde has been unhappy with the CM for lack of freedom in running his departments
Sena's allies NCP and Congress are closely watching these developments as the survival of MVA govt is at stake after two successive defeats
The Shiv Sena, which heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi government faces the danger of a split in the party as the senior leader and urban development Minister Eknath Shinde has been not reachable since last night.
In addition, several legislators, who are associated with Shinde, are also unable to be contacted.
As per reports, the minister and legislators are in Surat and Shinde will address the press at 12 pm from there.
This development took place in the wake of at least 11 Sena legislators and their associate members have reportedly cross voted in the state council election held on Monday.
Meanwhile, Shive Sena legislators have begun arriving at Varsha for a meeting convened by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Although scheduled for 12 noon, the meeting will be starting a bit later. Various legislators, including Minister Dadaji Bhuse have started their journey from St. Regis hotel to Varsha. Each legislator is being accompanied by at least two sainiks, presumably to ensure there is no further defection.
Sena MLA Santosh Bangar claimed that the situation would revert to normal soon, although no sign of this had emerged as of yet.
Subhash Desai, Neelam Gorhe, Anil Desai, Vinayak Raut and newly elected Aamasha Padvi have arrived at Varsha already.
Meanwhile, in Surat, Belapur MLA Nitish Deshmukh has been admitted to hospital after complaining of a chest pain. Deshmukh was among those accompanied Shinde to Surat, and is presumably part of the defector's camp.
The BJP state government in Gujarat have provided police security to Sena legislators.
Shinde's supporters have insisted that the Shiv Sena should not be allied with the NCP and the Congress. However, they say they are open to continuing with the Sena, but only after the Sena joins the BJP in forming a new government.
According to legislators present in Surat, Shinde and 21 other legislators are reportedly present.
Some legislators reported confusion as to why they had been summoned to Gujarat at all, and that they do not know what they are doing in Surat.
State BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said that if he received a proposal from Shinde's camp requesting to join the BJP, he would accept. However, he declined to comment on any potential collapse of the MVA government.
Meanhwile, Sanjay Raut has rubbished reports that Shinde is incommunicado, saying that contact has been established. He added that Shinde was a "hard-core Shiv Sainik and loyalist of party founder Balasaheb Thackeray."
Pointing out that the stay of the Sena legislators in Surat was being facilitated by the Gujarat state government, Raut pointed out that it was perfectly clear to all who was behind all of this.
Developments are moving fast. In New Delhi, Home Minister Amit Shah arrived at BJP party chief JP Nadda's home. Former Maharashtra CM and state BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis has also arrived in Delhi for a meeting with BJP top leadership.
Nadda's residence is at the thick of things, as the saffron party meets to decide how best to take advantage of the developing political crisis in Maharashtra.
Shah's role is seen as crucial, since CM Uddhav Thackeray has reiterated that despite assurances give to him by Shah of sharing power, the BJP leader broke his word. Shah has disavowed all knowledge of any such agreement.
Back in Maharashtra, state Education Minister Uday Samant expressed a hope that SHinde would not "deviate from the SHiv Sena's principles," adding that he would be meeting the CM.
Although Shiv Sena’s Sachin Ahir and Aamasha Padvi won, 11 legislators are believed to have cast their votes for BJP's fifth nominee Prasad Lad who got 28 votes. A tense CM and Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray held a meeting with his Ministers and party legislators at midnight and again called a meeting at 12 pm today to take stock of the situation.
Shinde was reportedly angry after he was neglected in the functioning of the party and the government. He was also not happy for not having received freedom in running his departments including urban development and Public works (MSRDC) due to the dominance of CM and Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
His followers in the Shiv Sena were displeased with the CM's indifferent attitude and allocation of adequate funds in their respective constituencies.
It was not just Shinde and his followers but other legislators also had complained about stepmotherly treatment by NCP Veteran and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in the allocation of funds.
Although Pawar, who holds finance and planning departments, had denied those charges the Sena legislators were expecting CM's intervention to find a middle path.
However, they had pointed out that CM did not assert as he was reluctant to touch allies and attract their wrath. Legislators wanted the CM to be proactive but his inaction and silence made them restless.
Shiv Sena's allies NCP and Congress are worried and closely watching these developments as the survival of the MVA government may be at stake. NCP won two seats but Congress failed to win two seats as its Dalit leader and former Minister Chandrakant Handore lost while another nominee Bhai Jagtap won. About seven Congress legislators have reportedly cross-voted.
Although the BJP is now silent, it may be mulling action along the lines of 'Operation Lotus'- the name given to the BJP’s alleged scheme of wooing MLAs from ruling parties to pull down a government in power.
Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, who emerged as an architect of the BJP's victories in Rajya Sabha and state Council elections, claimed that BJP's fight will continue till a pro-people government is formed in Maharashtra.
His remark is an indication that BJP is geared up to exploit growing disgruntlement among MVA and in Shiv Sena in particular. BJP benefited because of a rift within MVA leading to a victory of its fifth nominee Prasad Lad in the state Council poll and its third nominee Dhananjay Mahadik in the Rajya Sabha election as it mobilised additional votes from MVA.
More trouble for Shiv Sena?
As per the anti-defection law, 36 legislators will have to defect to split the Shiv Sena. The legislators which include Anil Babar, Shahaji Patil, Mahendra Thorve, Prakash Abitkar, Sanjay Rathod, will form a separate group headed by Shinde and are expected to give a letter to the Governor soon.
Thereafter, the ball will be in the Governor's court as he will ask the CM to prove majority on the floor of house. If the CM is unsure of proving majority he will resign to avoid defeat on the floor of the house. Later, the governor may call the BJP to submit a letter with the support of legislators and a new CM will be sworn in and the Governor will later ask him to prove the majority on the floor of the house.
Fourth major split?
This will be the fourth major split in Sena if it really happens. It was Chhagan Bhujbal who defected to Congress in 1990. Later Narayan Rane left to join Congress in 2005.Thereafter Raj Thackeray also left in 2005 and later formed MNS.
1. Eknath Shinde - Kaupari
2. Abdul Sattar - Sillod - Aurangabad
3. Shambhuraj Desai - Satara
4. Sandipan Bhumre - Paithan - Aurangabad
5. Rajput with Udayas - Kannada - Aurangabad
6. Bharat Gogavale - Mahad - Raigad
7. Nitin Deshmukh - Balapur - Akola
8. Anil Babur - Khanapur - Atpadi - Sangli
9. Vishwanath Bhoir - Kalyan West
10. Sanjay Gaekwad - Buldhana
11. Sanjay Ramulkar - Mehkar
12. Mahesh Sinde - Koregaon - Satara
13. Shahaji Patil - Sangola - Solapur
14. Prakash Abitkar - Radhapuri - Kolhapur
15. Sanjay Rathore - Digras - Yavatmal
16. Gyanraj Chowgule - Umargas - Osmanabad
17. Tanaji Sawant - Paroda - Osmanabad
18. Sanjay Shirsat - Aurangabad West
19. Ramesh Bornare - Baijapur - Aurangabad