Dissident Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde claimed on Saturday that the Maharashtra government has withdrawn security coverage from the homes of 16 rebel lawmakers, including himself, calling the action a “political vendetta”. However, the Maharashtra government immediately denied the charges.
Currently camping in Guwahati with the rebel lawmakers, Mr Shinde tweeted a letter signed by the 16 MLAs addressed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil.
Lawmakers said Mr Thackeray and the leaders of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance will be responsible if their family members are harmed.
Mr Shinde claimed that the security coverage of the 16 insurgent Sena lawmakers was withdrawn on the orders of Mr Thackeray and Mr Walse Patil due to “political vendetta”. “The government is responsible for the safety of these lawmakers,” he added.
“There is an ongoing agenda in which various leaders of the MVA government are urging their respective parties’ cadres to use force to further intimidate us, as evidenced by the media reports published on 23.06.2022 in various print and digital publications in which Mr. Sanjay Raut threatened the petitioners and the other members by stating that he would make it difficult for the MLAS who have left to return to Maharashtra and relocate in the state of Maharashtra,” said Mr Shinde’s letter.
Attached to a link, he quoted Mr Raut’s interview on Thursday’s DailyExpertNews in which the Sena spokesperson had said, “Get all the MLAs to the floor of the House. We’ll see then. These MLAs that have left…will they find it difficult to return and move in Maharashtra.”
However, the government denied the allegations in the letter in which Mr Wasle Patil tweeted in Hindi: “Neither the Prime Minister nor the Ministry of Home Affairs has ordered the removal of the protection of any MLA in the state. The allegations raised in These connections have been made on Twitter are completely wrong and misleading.”
The exchange comes amid an ever-growing uprising over Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
About 40 Shiv Sena MLAs led by Minister Eknath Shinde are said to be hiding in BJP-ruled Assam, challenging Mr Thackeray’s leadership and an alliance with Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The rebels have called on the Shiv Sena to pull out of the unlikely alliance and instead team up with the BJP – a demand Mr Thackeray’s camp has said it is willing to consider even if it led to it 16 of the dissidents were disqualified from the meeting.
By most counts, Mr Shinde has reached the critical number of MLAs, 37, necessary to split the party in the assembly without violating the anti-defector law.