Eknath Shinde had reached Guwahati on Wednesday. (File)
Four more Maharashtra MLAs reached Guwahati on Wednesday night, bolstering the support base for Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde. The leader, who led the revolt of Shiv Sena MLAs against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, had reached the Assam capital from Surat yesterday along with 39 MLAs, including around 7 independents. The number has gone up. According to Eknath Shinde, more MLAs are willing to join the rebel camp.
Eknath Shinde and other rebels have been camping in a luxury hotel on the outskirts of Guwahati. “Thirty-nine MLAs accompanied me. We are loyal to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of ‘Hindutva’ and we are keen to take it forward,” he said.
Shinde said now he has the support of 46 MLAs, including 6-7 independents.
How much trouble is Uddhav Thackeray in?
The Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs in the Maharashtra Assembly. The Nationalist Congress Party has 53 MLAs whereas the Congress has 44. Eknath Shinde needs the support of 38 MLAs to evade the anti-defection law. The anti-defection law allows defection of 2/3rd of MLAs of a single party to another party without any penalty. Any number less than 38 would mean the MLAs will be in danger of being disqualified from the assembly. If Eknath Shinde has the support of 39 MLAs, he can topple the government via the floor test and help form a new government without being disqualified.
The NDA currently has 113 MLAs in the Assembly. With the help of these Shiv Sena MLAs and independents, it can bring down the Uddhav Thackeray government and form a government of its own. The Sena rebels can either merge with the BJP or provide outside support to a minority government.
Another scenario that can play out is that the Maharashtra government dissolves the assembly and faces the elections.
The rebels are demanding that Uddhav Thackeray end Shiv Sena’s ‘unnatural’ alliance with the Congress and NCP, and enter an alliance with the BJP.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Uddhav Thackeray vacated his official residence and returned to his private home ‘Matoshri’. He made the move after addressing the rebels and saying he was ready to relinquish the posts of the chief minister and Shiv Sena president if they met him and demanded the same.
Some reports quoted Shiv Sena sources as saying that many rebels want to return to the Thackeray camp.