Mumbai: With the Shiv Sena rebels’ ranks swelling in Guwahati and CM Uddhav Thackeray’s hold on his MLAs appearing to be slipping, with only 13 MLAs turning up for his meeting Thursday, party MP Sanjay Raut put up a brave front, saying that even if the Sena loses power, it will “rise like a phoenix”.
“Will stay with the party till the last breath. And we will fly high like an eagle once again,” Raut told ThePrint. “Whoever wants to go can go. But once again, you’ll have to fight the elections. And try to win then.
“This land is of the Shiv Sena. This (party) is of Balasaheb Thackeray. If a group of MLAs is going away, let them be. But we will rise like a phoenix.”
Raut’s remarks came as two MLAs — along with senior leader Deepak Kesarkar — reached Guwahati Thursday morning despite Uddhav’s emotional appeal Wednesday evening, where he offered to resign if the rebel MLAs asked him directly.
Only 13 Shiv Sena MLAs attended the meeting called by Uddhav at the Thackeray residence Matoshree Thursday, which suggested the Sena chief’s camp was at risk of being reduced to a minority in comparison to the MLAs rallying behind rebel leader Eknath Shinde.
Raut claimed the “use of central agencies by the BJP” was one of the main reasons for the rebellion. “We have been fighting for 56 years… what will happen? We will lose power, ministry. You have sent the ED, the CBI behind us. Put us in jail, and even shoot us. What is most that can happen?”
“You (the rebel MLAs) go to BJP, merge with them. Even during Balasaheb’s time, many people left us. We have raised this party and brought it to power. Let anyone go,” he added.
Asserting that the party belonged to Bal Thackeray and that Shiv Sainiks will remain with Uddhav, he said “Balasaheb’s spirit is watching all of this”.
“These guys will not be happy. Our entire life was spent with Balasaheb. Marathi people and Shiv Sena are not weak,” he added. “We have faced many such challenges. We have tolerated many such betrayals. Balasaheb used to say ‘I have no place on my back to take any more stabs. But I have still made the party stronger’.”
Giving references of former Shiv Sena rebels Chhagan Bhujbal and Narayan Rane, Raut said they could neither win on their own and nor could the people who left with them. “Everyone takes Balasaheb’s name but only the Shiv Sena is of Balasaheb Thackeray.”
Eknath Shinde’s letter
Maharashtra minister and Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde Thursday tweeted a letter written by another rebel MLA, which sought to express how the party legislators felt under Uddhav.
The letter alleged that the MLAs could never meet the CM and had to go “through some people who were close to Uddhav”.
MLAs, it added, never got funds for their constituencies despite having a Sena CM. When they wanted to go to Ayodhya with Aaditya Thackeray, they were not allowed, the letter said.
“Uddhav ji, you made an emotional speech, but our questions were not answered. And when the CM was not available, it was Eknath Shinde who was there for us and even in future he will be there. So, we are supporting him,” the letter added.
Raut described the contents of the letter as “excuses”.
“Many Shiv Sena MLAs have been coming to Varsha (the official residence of the Maharashtra CM) regularly. Earlier, it was Covid times and then Uddhav got ill for six months. So, if they are saying such things then I feel its inhuman,” he said.
“You (Eknath Shinde) were given the charge of handling the MLAs. To understand their plight and problems. You were there during every decision. Uddhav Thackeray can’t be present everywhere. You had that responsibility but you also created a rift in the party. The party is of everyone and it was everybody’s responsibility,” Raut added.
While Raut yet again appealed to all the MLAs to return, he said the rebel legislators will else have to prove their majority on the floor of the Maharashtra assembly, which Raut said would be difficult.
Raut has claimed that at least 20 of the Shiv Sena MLAs who are in Assam were in touch with the party, and the circumstances in which they exited would be known once they returned to Maharashtra.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
Source: The Print