NEW DELHI: As the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs hardened their stance against the MVA government, Maharashtra chief minister and party supremo Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday said he was ready to resign.
In a televised address, Thackeray appealed to around 40 rebel party MLAs camping in BJP-ruled Assam to return to the talking table. “I appeal to the rebels: come, have a conversation with me, and if you want me to resign, I will quit,” he said.
He also offered to step down as the party chief if “Shiv Sainiks come and tell me that I am not competent to lead the party”.
State minister Eknath Shinde, the leader of the rebel group, has claimed the support of 46 MLAs including seven Independents. Shinde camped in Gujarat’s Surat along with other dissidents for two days before flying to Guwahati on Wednesday morning. He released a video from a hotel in Surat showing a gathering of 40 legislators.
Shinde, who is considered a professional and composed politician, has accused chief minister Uddhav Thackeray of compromising on the principles of Hindutva that his father Bal Thackeray fought for.
Responding to the accusation, Thackeray said, “Sena and Hindutva are inseparable. Shiv Sena is never going to leave Hindutva.”
Shiv Sena held a meeting of party legislators at the residence of the chief minister this evening, which Shinde said was illegal.
The Shinde-led faction appointed MLA Bharat Gogavale as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena legislature party as chief minister Thackeray accused the MLAs of “betrayal”.
Amid speculations that the rebels may join the BJP to topple the Maharashtra government, Shinde said they were not in touch with the saffron party.
In the 287 members Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the halfway mark to form the government is currently 144. Before the rebellion, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government enjoyed the support of 169 legislators. With the rebellion, the Thackeray government lost the majority.
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