A day after Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra, rebel Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar said that the former's ouster from office was never the aim of the rebellion.
"Uddhav Thackeray resigned yesterday and several sections of the media reported that many of us celebrated. I want to clarify that no such celebrations took place. Uddhav ji is our leader and he was the CM. His ouster was never the aim of our rebellion. We had a problem with the unnatural alliance," Kesarkar said while addressing the press.
He also added that the rebels were upset about fighting against their "own leader" while opposing the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the two other components of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state along with the Sena.
Kesarkar added that the rebels still "respect him (Thackeray) as much as we always did," adding, "but because our stand was never taken into consideration, the rebellion began."
Eknath Shinde seconded Kesarkar's statements, saying that the rebels were not happy with Thackeray's resignation.
"The 50 MLAs had only one demand that we should take Bal Thackeray's idea of Hindutva ahead. If it was paid heed to at the right time, this would not have escalated," Shinde said.
'None of the Rebels Have Ambitions To Become Ministers'
Meanwhile, Kesarkar added that none of the rebels had any ambitions to be ministers in a potential new government, adding that no discussions had taken place in this regard.
"There have not been any talks about forming the government in Maharashtra. We just held a group meeting. Eknath Shinde is en route to Mumbai. In situation like this, who will become a minister, how many will be ministers, no such talks have happened," he said.
"The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a national party and Devendra Fadnavis need to hold discussions with his party, too. Still, there are reports that are already running names of possible ministers, which is unacceptable. None of the MLAs here have ambitions to be ministers," he added.
'Shinde Authorised To Take All Decisions': Kesarkar
Kesarkar further said that Shinde is authorised to take all decisions on behalf of the rebels.
The MLA claimed that the Sena rebels had written an open letter to Thackeray, urging him to quit the MVA, but he refused to do so and acted only after the matter reached the Supreme Court.
"So, it's not like we betrayed him or the party," Kesarkar said, adding that the rebels had not staked a claim to the Shiv Sena.
He also slammed Sena MP Sanjay Raut for saying that the rebels "backstabbed" Thackeray.
"If there is anybody who backstabbed, it is people like Sanjay Raut who gave wrong advice to the party chief," Kesarkar said.
On Wednesday, rebel MLA Bharat Gogawale had said that meetings would be held at a five-star hotel in Goa to discuss the next steps in the wake of Thackeray's resignation as CM.
"It is not like we are very happy with the decision of Uddhav Thackeray stepping down as the CM. We are heading towards our hotel. Once we reach there, we will discuss the issue and decide our next steps. He (Thackeray) tried to convince us," Gogawale was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
(With inputs from PTI.)