Amid unrest in the ruling Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the Congress on Tuesday deputed its senior leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath as AICC observer in the state. The decision came soon after reports that some Shiv Sena MLAs led by dissident leader Eknath Shinde are camping in Gujarat and could pose a threat to the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
“The Congress president has deputed Kamal Nath as All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer in the wake of recent political developments in the state, with immediate effect,” said an official communication from the Congress. The Congress shares power with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena in the MVA government in Maharashtra.
Senior Shiv Sena leader and minister Shinde has gone incommunicado, a party leader said, a day after the MVA suffered a setback in the state Legislative Council polls by losing one out of the six seats it contested. The development could rattle the MVA as some Sena MLAs are believed to be in touch with Shinde.
However, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut asserted that the “Sena is a party of loyalists and attempts by the BJP, like in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, to topple the MVA government would not succeed”. He also said Shinde was a “trusted Shiv Sainik”, and that the “missing” MLAs will be back after the party is able to reach out to them.
Earlier in the day, a Sena leader said Shinde, who wields influence in some of the satellite cities of Mumbai, may be in Gujarat along with some MLAs.
The leader did not divulge the number of MLAs who could be with Shinde and their details. NCP leader Sharad Pawar said he was confident that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would be able to handle the situation and the MVA government would last its full five-year term.
Pawar would be meeting Thackeray later in the day as he would leave for Mumbai soon after the Opposition meet on the joint presidential candidate.