Amid rebellion by Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde that has put a question mark on the stability of the Maharashtra government, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night left his official residence ‘Varsha’ in south Mumbai and moved back to ‘Matoshree’, the private residence of the Thackeray family in suburban Bandra.
Thackeray left ‘Varsha’ along with his family amid chants of “Uddhav tum aage badho, hum tumhare saath hain” from his supporters. Several Shiv Sena workers also gathered outside ‘Matoshree’ to show their support to him. When he reached Matoshree, dramatic scenes were witnessed as Shiv Sena workers blocked roads as a mark of respect for Uddhav. He finally got off his car and walked to his house amid police security.
— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2022
Shiv Sena leaders like Neelam Gorhe and Chandrakant Khaire were present at ‘Varsha’ when Thackeray, who also heads the party, was leaving the official residence. Earlier, bags containing his personal belongings were seen being loaded in cars.
Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray along with his mother Rashmi Thackeray and brother Tejas Thackeray follow Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray as he leaves from his official residence in Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/fOfq9bZN1n
— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2022
Hours before leaving his official residence, Thackeray offered to quit as Maharashtra CM and said he will be happy if a Shiv Sainik succeeds him. In an 18-minute live webcast, he also said he was ready to step down if the rebel leader and MLAs supporting him, all camping in Guwahati in the BJP-ruled Assam, declare that they don’t want him to continue as CM.
Thackeray was the only Maharashtra CM in recent times who did not move into ‘Varsha’ after being sworn-in in 2019. He moved there after more than a year in 2021 due to some renovation work at ‘Matoshree’.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said Thackeray will remain the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, and the ruling coalition MVA will prove its majority on the floor of the assembly if needed. Thackeray is not resigning from his post, he clarified.
He rejected reports that NCP chief Sharad Pawar had asked Thackeray to make Shinde the CM to save the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. Pawar did not give any advice to Thackeray and instead said the MVA will fight the political crisis together till the end, Raut said.
Pawar, whose party is the second-largest constituent of the Sena-led MVA, is the chief architect of the governing coalition which assumed office in November 2019. Congress is also a part of the MVA.
A group of rebel MLAs, led by Shinde, were flown to Guwahati on Wednesday morning and were taken to a luxury hotel amid tight security. On Tuesday, the MLAs were taken to Surat from Mumbai and the decision to shift them to Assam’s capital city was taken on “security grounds”, a BJP source told news agency PTI.
Shinde today claimed that he has the support of 34 MLAs of his party and passed a resolution on in the evening reinstating himself as the leader of the Shiv Sena legislative party, a day after he was removed from the post by the Sena leadership. He also posted a tweet saying the ruling MVA government was an “unnatural alliance” and it was imperative for Shiv Sena to walk out of the coalition with the NCP and the Congress for its own sake and that of the party workers.
Shinde and some MLAs had reached the hotel in Surat on late Monday night, hours after Legislative Council polls which saw the BJP winning the fifth seat despite not having enough numbers in the assembly, possibly due to suspected cross-voting from the ruling bloc besides support from Independent MLAs and those from smaller parties. After the Council poll results, Shinde went incommunicado and later it came to light he is camping in the hotel along with some party MLAs.
(with inputs from PTI)