As 34 MLAs declared Shiv Sena dissident Eknath Shinde as their leader in a letter to state governor and deputy speaker, the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government in Maharashtra seems likely to collapse
As 34 MLAs of Shiv Sena declared rebel leader Eknath Shinde as their leader in a letter to state governor and deputy speaker, the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government in Maharashtra seemed likely to collapse.
Shinde earlier claimed to have support of 46 MLAs, however, the letter to the governor was signed by 34.
In a letter sent via WhatsApp, email and SMS, the Shiv Sena called for a party meeting at 5pm and said that those who don’t attend the meeting, “will be presumed that you intend to leave the party and your membership is liable to be cancelled”.
As the political drama unfolds in Maharashtra, let’s take a look at the 2.5 troubled years of the Maha Vikas Aghadi:
The formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi
The state-level political coalition was formed after the 2019 Assembly elections in Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena had a fall out with the BJP over their preferred chief ministerial candidates and other portfolio positions
The Maha Vikas Aghadi was formed under the leadership of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), and Sonia Gandhi of the Congress, along with support from the Samajwadi Party, Prahar Janshakti Party, PWPI, and several other political parties and independent MLAs.
In the coalition, the Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs, the NCP has 53, the Congress has 44 and others have 16 MLAs.
The 2.5 years of internal strife
The coalition government isn’t new to squabbling amongst themselves. In fact, few months into the formation the Shiv Sena gave its support to the Citizenship Bill in the Lok Sabha, something that was vehemently opposed by the Congress.
The party soon after retracted from its earlier stand and said it won’t support the bill in Rajya Sabha.
In January 2020, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut had claimed that former prime minister Indira Gandhi used to visit an underworld gangster in Mumbai. The statement was met with displeasure from Congress leaders. Raut later had to withdraw his remark.
Over the last few years since the formation of MVP, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna has taken jibes at the Congress on multiple occasions. Once it compared the grand old party to an old cot making noise and at another time it said the party had turned “feeble and disintegrated”.
The Shiv Sena and the Congress have locked horns at other occasions too, including over the Farmer’s Bill, which the former supported in the Lok Sabha but decided to join opposition ranks later.
Recent fall of the MVP
As per India Today, there have been reports that Shinde is upset with the Sena leadership for allegedly being side-lined.
Shiv Sena sources told The Indian Express the Shiv Sena’s decision to override his suggestion that the party contest the Thane Municipal Corporation polls alone might have been the final straw.
Shinde, who was categorically told that the party would contest in alliance with the NCP and Congress, reportedly took affront to both the content and the manner of the communication via leaders including Sanjay Raut, as per the newspaper report.
Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has long been accused of moving away from his father and Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology.
“We are following Balasaheb’s Hindutva and Anand Dighe’s teachings. We have not left Shiv Sena. We are staunch followers of Hindutva. Under any circumstances We will not compromise on Balasaheb’s Hindutva under any circumstances, ” Eknath Shinde told the media on Wednesday.
Chief Minister Thackeray countered the allegation that his party has moved from Balasaheb Thackeray’s core Hindutva ideology by saying “Hindutva is our life”.
“Some people say that it’s not Balasaheb’s Shiv Sena. They should tell what were the thoughts of Bala Saheb. This is the same Shiv Sena that it was at his time ‘Hindutva’ is our life,” he said.
It’s true that I could not meet people in the last few months due to my surgery and health condition. But now, I have started meeting people: Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray pic.twitter.com/gSfScu5hp3
— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2022
Amid the intense drama, Thackeray on Wednesday said that he was ready to resign if even a single MLA wanted him to quit.
If any MLA wants me to not continue as the CM, I am ready to take all my belongings from Versha Bungalow (official residence of the CM) to Matoshri: Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray pic.twitter.com/kciNQsijer
— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2022