Shiv Sena strongman Sanjay Raut, who had reportedly had a fall out with Maha Vikas Agadhi rebel Eknath Shinde a few days before the fissures within the coalition had become apparent, said on June 23 that the party is ready to consider exiting the MVA if all the MLAs wish so.
Speaking to news agency ANI, Raut said: “The MLAs should not communicate from Guwahati; they should come back to Mumbai and discuss all this with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. We are ready to consider exiting the MVA if this is the will of all the MLAs. However, for that, they must come here and discuss the issue with the Chief Minister.”
While assuring the Eknath Shinde-led rebel camp that they may still join the party-fold if they wish to, the Uddhav Thackeray loyalist has also challenged them to a floor test, NDTV reported.
Threatening the MLAs who have joined the rebel camp, he said: “Let all the MLAs come to the floor of the House. We will see then. These MLAs who have left... they will find it difficult to return and move around in Maharashtra.”
Rejecting their demands to sever ties with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form a government in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, Raut said: “You (the rebels) should merge with the BJP. Shiv Sena remains our party.”
He further said that 21 MLAs in Guwahati have contacted them and when they return to Mumbai, they will be back with the party.
The Congress party has called a meeting of its leaders at the Sahyadri Guest House at 4 pm today in response to the Shiv Sena leader’s statement proposing MVA exit. Senior Congress leaders including HK Patil, Balasaheb Thorat, Nana Patole, and Ashok Chavan are expected to attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MLA Nitin Deshmukh has alleged that several leaders were forcefully taken to Surat, a claim that has been junked by Shinde.
Deshmukh alleged: “We were forcibly taken to Surat, I tried to run away but was caught by Surat police. Despite having no complications, doctors told me that I had a heart attack. 300-350 police personnel were keeping an eye on us.”
He added: “Before me, MLA Prakash Abitkar tried to get away from them, but he could not. We got to know about the conspiracy against the MVA govt as soon as we reached Surat's hotel.”Sena MLA Kailash Patil also said that they “were trapped and taken to Surat”. He claimed that he “walked a kilometre to run away from there” and vowed to not ditch the party.