The 34 Shiv Sena MLAs, who are part of the breakaway faction, have passed a resolution appointing Eknath Shinde as the leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature party. Eknath Shinde, who triggered the crisis, has claimed the support of 35-40 MLAs.
A group of about 40 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs along with their leader Eknath Shinde left their hotel in Surat in Gujarat on Wednesday and reached Assam at around 7 am.
“We have the support of 40 MLAs,” Shinde said after the rebels were moved from Surat to Guwahati in a chartered plane.
Speaking to the media at the Guwahati airport, Shinde, an MLA from Thane district, said, "A total of 40 Shiv Sena MLAs are present here. We will take forward Balasaheb Thackeray's Hindutva."
Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde, who is said to be 'upset' with his party, reportedly holed up in a hotel in Gujarat's Surat, along with several similarly disaffected MLAs from Maharashtra.
The development has set off speculation on the future of the Uddhav Thackeray government.
The legislators with Shinde are reportedly 'upset' and this may signal a major crisis for the ruling alliance of Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
Who is the disaffected lawmaker?
Eknath Sambhaji Shinde is a Maharashtra State Government Cabinet Minister - PWD (MSRDC, Public Undertaking) from Government Of Maharashtra and current Member of Legislative Assembly from Kopri-Pachpakhadi (Vidhan Sabha constituency) of Maharashtra, as a member of Shiv Sena; one of 288 members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
He has been elected consecutively for 4 terms in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019.
Shinde was born on 9 February, 1964 in Satara. At an early age, he came to Thane and completed his education till the 11th standard from Mangala High School and Junior College. He had to leave education, and started working to support his family.
In 1980, he was influenced by Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray and joined the party, working as a Sainik. During that time, he participated in many agitations, such as the Maharashtra – Karnataka Agitation over the status of Belgauvi, after which he was imprisoned for 40 days.
Once an auto-rickshaw driver in Thane city adjoining Mumbai, Shinde (58) quickly emerged as a key Sena leader in the Thane-Palghar region after joining politics and is known for aggressive approach towards issues of public interest.
His dedication to the Sena's cause was noticed and in 1997, he was given the opportunity to contest the election of Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) as a corporator which he won with handsome majority.
In 2001, he got elected as a Leader of the house in TMC. He continued to occupy the post till 2004. As a leader of the house in TMC, he didn't restrict himself to the issues related to the TMC or the city, but took active interest in the overall development and well-being of the whole Thane district.
In 2004, Shinde was given an opportunity to contest the Assembly Elections from Thane Assembly Constituency by Balasaheb Thackeray, and he won it with a handsome majority.
In the very next year, in 2005, he was appointed to the coveted post of Shiv Sena Thane District Head.
He emerged victorious in the subsequent assembly elections in 2009, 2014 and 2019.
After the 2014 elections, he was elected as the leader of legislative party of Shiv Sena and subsequently the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly.
Within a month, as Shiv Sena decided to join the state government, he took oath as the minister for Public Works Department (Public Undertakings) and went on to take the additional responsibility of the Health and Family Welfare Ministry in January 2019.
Eknath Shinde is married to Lata Shinde
His son, Dr Shrikant Shinde, is an orthopaedic surgeon who got elected as a Member of Parliament to the Lok Sabha from the Kalyan constituency, defeating the NCP's Anand Paranjape, who had defected from the Shiv Sena and Raju Patil of the MNS.