Even as Shiv Sena’s numbers dwindled in the state Assembly, party spokesperson Sanjay Raut expressed confidence of a majority in case of a floor test, claiming that he is in touch with at least 20 legislators from the ‘rebel’ Eknath Shinde camp. “Even today our party is strong. Under what circumstances and under what pressure they left us, it will be revealed soon… We have about 20 MLAs in contact and it will be revealed when they come to Mumbai. One who leaves the party under ED pressure cannot be a devotee of Balasaheb,” Raut told journalists.
Taking a dig at Shinde, Raut said that the real followers of Balasaheb Thackeray will never act under the fear of the Enforcement Directorate, while adding that mere words cannot make one a true believer of Balasaheb. Raut said that once the ‘rebel’ MLAs return to Mumbai, it will be clear under what pressure they were made to defect. A day after Sena MLA Nitin Deshmukh returned to Nagpur after allegedly fleeing from the ‘rebel’ camp in Gujarat, Raut said that Deshmukh would be addressing the press later in the day on his sweeping claims of kidnapping attempts made by the Gujarat police. Raut further said that the “real lion” is Uddhav Thackeray and not the ones who “run” leaving their government behind.
A day after Thackeray’s emotional pitch asking ‘rebel’ leaders to return and address him directly, Shinde on Thursday shared a scathing letter written by a dissident MLA in reply alleging that the CM was unreachable to his own legislators, while adding that the Sena MLAs felt ‘insulted’ as people close to Thackeray wouldn’t give them access.
Reacting to the latest development, Shiv Sena’s MVA partner NCP stated that the game is far from over. Speaking to reporters, NCP leader Jayant Patil said, “I don’t think that to form government in one state, you can show your strength in another state. He (Eknath Shinde) has to come here to show his MLAs to Governor…thereafter Governor will take the necessary decision.”