Shiv Sena, which leads the three-party coalition government in Maharashtra, has removed senior leader Eknath Shinde as the party's chief whip after he left for Surat along with "rebel" MLAs, reports said on June 21, as yet another crisis gripped the ruling combine in the western state.
Sena, according to news agency ANI, has appointed its MLA from Mumbai's Sewri, Ajay Chaudhary, as the new chief whip.
The decision comes shortly after Shinde, along with 12 Sena MLAs, was reported to be in Surat in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat and turned incommunicado.
After reportedly refusing to talk to the Sena leadership, Shinde launched a veiled attack on Twitter, as he invoked the Hindutva ideals of the party's late patriarch Bal Thackeray."We are Balasaheb's staunch Shiv Sainiks ... Balasaheb has taught us Hindutva .. We have never and will never cheat for power regarding Balasaheb's thoughts and Dharmaveer Anand Dighe Saheb's teachings," tweeted Shinde, who is also a cabinet minister.
आम्ही बाळासाहेबांचे कट्टर शिवसैनिक आहोत... बाळासाहेबांनी आम्हाला हिंदुत्वाची शिकवण दिली आहे.. बाळासाहेबांचे विचार आणि धर्मवीर आनंद दिघे साहेबांची शिकवण यांच्याबाबत आम्ही सत्तेसाठी कधीही प्रतारणा केली नाही आणि करणार नाही
— Eknath Shinde - एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) June 21, 2022
The political turmoil in Maharashtra comes a day after the legislative council elections in the state, which witnessed the opposition BJP winning five seats against its numerical strength of 106 MLAs.
The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), despite have more than 150 legislators, could get only five of its six candidates elected to the state's upper house.
While Sena chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was yet to react to Shinde's rebellion, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar told media in Delhi that he did not see any threat to the government."This is an internal issue of the Shiv Sena, whatever they decide we are with them. We do not think there is any need for change in the government," said Pawar, who is considered as the architect of the Sena-NCP-Congress coalition in the state.