Amid the political turmoil in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena said in an editorial published in its mouthpiece Saamana on Thursday, 23 June, that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would dispose of rebel MLAs when it no longer needed them, adding that they would soon return to the Sena's fold.
"Today, the BJP is taking care of rebel Sena MLAs like wounds on the palm of their hand, but once the party does not have any need for them, they will dispose them like garbage. This has been the tradition of the BJP," the editorial read.
The Sena also claimed that its MLAs, led by Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde, were caught in the "grip of the BJP."
"In politics, nothing is certain. The hard-working MLAs who were elected on a Shiv Sena ticket, using their money, are now caught in the BJP's grip," the party said.
'CM Uddhav Thackeray's Popularity at Its Peak': Sena
The party added that the future of the government in the state was unstable, but Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's popularity was at its peak.
"No matter what happens in the Legislative Assembly, the one thing that is certain is that the popularity of Uddhav Thackeray as the CM of Maharashtra is at its peak. He is very dear to the people," the editorial read.
The Sena further claimed that it had now become obvious who orchestrated the BJP's massive gains in the Rajya Sabha and Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) elections. "The MLAs have been locked up forcefully. This has been made clear by the return of Nitin Deshmukh."
Deshmukh, one of the MLAs who had purportedly joined Shinde's rebel camp, reappeared on Wednesday, claiming that he was abducted and taken to Gujarat's Surat.
He also declared unconditional support for CM Thackeray, saying, "I am Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sainik. I am going home."
The Sena added in its mouthpiece that the party has crushed many such challenges to its honour, adding that it did not matter whether it lost power.
The editorial also charged at BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, with whom the party has often indulged in mud-slinging matches.
"Kirit Somaiya used to attack Shiv Sena MLAs on charges of corruption and economic malpractice. He also used to display the fear of the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation, and the Income Tax Department. All the MLAs he used to criticise have joined the BJP's group. Now it seems Somaiya will have to worship them," the editorial said.
The Crisis in Maharashtra
The total number of rebel MLAs has increased to at least 41, with three more joining Eknath Shinde's camp in Guwahati's Radisson Blu Hotel.
Shinde, on the other hand, has claimed that he has the support of at least 46 MLAs.
Meanwhile, CM Thackeray on Wednesday night vacated his official residence 'Varsha' in south Mumbai and moved to his family home 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra, hours after offering to quit the top post.
Party workers raised slogans and showered petals on the CM as he left his official residence along with his family members – wife Rashmi Thackeray, sons Aaditya, who is a Cabinet minister, and Tejas Thackeray – around 9.50 pm.
Meanwhile, MVA alliance partners – the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party – have pledged support to the Sena-led government in the state amid the rising political instability.