Shiv Sena: Rebels Divided Between Loyalty to Uddhav & Eknath Shinde's BJP Push
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs with Eknath Shinde want a patch-up with BJP but are divided on one key aspect.
The deadlock continues between the Shiv Sena leadership and the group of rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde. A phone conversation between Sena chief and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and rebel leader Eknath Shinde on the evening of Tuesday 21 June failed to resolve the stand-off. The efforts of Sena emissary Milind Narvekar also have proven futile so far.
Shinde is said to be adamant that the Sena should go back to its alliance with the BJP.
"We are steadfast Shiv Sainiks of Balasaheb Thackeray. He has taught us Hindutva. We are inspired by Balasaheb and Dharamveer Anand Dighe's thoughts and we will never cheat to attain power," Shinde tweeted earlier in the day.
Shinde's rebellion is a layered one. Sources in the Sena reveal that "not all the 'rebel' MLAs are on the same page."
There are broadly two groups within the 'rebel MLAs'.
First Group: Want Patch-Up With BJP But Express Loyalty to Uddhav Thackeray
There is a clear consensus within the rebel MLAs that the Sena should try and patch up with the BJP.
Eknath Shinde has emphasised on "Hindutva" to push for a revival of the alliance with the BJP and a number of MLAs have also been expressing similar sentiments.
However, it is also true that many support a return to the NDA fold as they see it as a way out of the regular scrutiny by Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax, and other central agencies.
"The MVA is ideologically not a natural alliance for us. The split with BJP has led to a constant tussle with the Centre which is not beneficial for the party," a source close to one of the rebel MLAs told The Quint.
"Instead of focusing on work, we are forced to go from one crisis to another," the source added.
However, not all the MLAs are keen on quitting the party in case Uddhav Thackeray doesn't agree to their demands.
One set of MLAs don't want to quit the party but only "set it in the right direction". They say they completely support Uddhav Thackeray's leadership and will abide by whatever he decides, even if it is against their demand.
A source close to some of these MLAs told The Quint, “Our proposal is a Shiv Sena-NCP government in the state supported by the BJP."
Many of these MLAs are in a tight spot. While they might be facing some pressures from agencies, they also know that rebelling against Uddhav Thackeray and the Sena would mean that they would run the risk of becoming targets of the party leadership and cadres.
This is particularly true of MLAs from Mumbai and Konkan regions, where the Sena is most strong.
A Mumbai MLA had told The Quint on an earlier occasion, "It was probably a mistake to break up with the BJP. He (Uddhav Thackeray) should have done what Balasaheb used to do: Be the power behind the throne and not take up the CM's position."
"But he took up the responsibility and is doing a good job. So we support him. But many still feel that angering the BJP has made matters difficult," the MLA said.
Group 2: Open to Rebelling Against Thackerays and Joining Hands With the BJP
There is a second group of MLAs who are open to questioning even Thackeray's leadership, though they are not saying it openly.
Shinde's tweet is a cryptic signal in this direction. He has mentioned the "ideals of" Balasaheb Thackeray and Dharamveer Anand Dighe, his mentor who dominated Thane politics.
The fact that he mentioned these two and not Uddhav Thackeray can also be read as an attempt to "reclaim" the party from him and take it closer to Hindutva and the ideals of Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe.
Though there are varying numbers doing the rounds, apparently 10-12 MLAs may firmly be with Shinde in this effort, at least as of now.
A source close to this section of MLAs pointed said that Eknath Shinde's aides may be negotiating for a BJP-Shiv Sena alliance with a BJP chief minister and a Shiv Sena deputy – in all probability Shinde himself.
This means an end to Uddhav Thackeray's chief ministership. Obviously, this set of MLAs are completely opposed to not just the Congress, but also the NCP.
Some of them compete with these two parties in their areas and would like the BJP's help to take them on.
Currently, the BJP has 105 seats in the Maharashtra Assembly, while the Shiv Sena has 56 and the NCP has 54. The BJP and Sena together have 161 seats in the 288-seat Assembly where the mid-way mark is 144.
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