Raut’s statements angers MVA allies NCP and Congress; ‘he should have consulted MVA leaders before making them,’ says Chhagan Bhujbal
Mumbai: In a last-ditch attempt to woo the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Sena Minister Eknath Shinde, Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday said if they wished the party to exit the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, then their demand would certainly be considered provided they showed the courage to return to the capital and present themselves before the party within 24 hours.
The Sena chief spokesperson claimed that the Sena leadership was in touch with as many as 22 MLAs who have sided with Eknath Shinde. Raut further added that if it comes to a floor test, the ruling coalition of the MVA will win.
Sanjay Raut accompanied by Sena MLAs Nitin Deshmukh and Kailash Patil, who returned to Mumbai after escaping from the rebel Shinde camp, spoke to the media on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the exodus of Sena MLAs from Chief Minister and Sena president Uddhav Thackeray camp to rebel Sena camp in Guwahati led by Eknath Shinde continued on the third day of the ‘revolt’.
The Sena chief spokesperson remarked, “If the rebel MLAs who are outside Maharashtra at present, and have been raising the issue of the Sena forsaking ‘Hindutva’, if they so wished that the party must exit from the MVA and consider alternatives, then they first ought to come to Mumbai and present their demands in a comprehensive manner before Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.”
Throwing the bait to the rebels, the Sena MP said that if they claimed to be staunch Shiv Sainiks who did not wish to desert the party, they must have the guts to come to Mumbai.
Sanjay Raut further remarked, “Sitting there (in Guwahati), do not shoot letters or communicate over mobile phones and social media platforms like WhatsApp and Twitter…you claim to be firm Shiv Sainiks. If your stance is about Sena leaving the MVA, then we are ready to do so. But first come to Mumbai within 24 hours.”
The uncertainty in the statement of Sena’s chief spokesperson over considering their demands of leaving the MVA fold has not gone down well with his MVA allies. His statements come at a time when the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress have been backing Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and speaking of saving the government.
Demanding that the Sena clear the confusion over Raut’s statements, senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal remarked, “He should have consulted with MVA allies before making such a statement. They must take MVA leaders into confidence before making any such decision. While the Sena is an independent party and has the right to take any decision, ultimately it makes no difference to the NCP who exits the government or if the MVA is in jeopardy…the NCP has the capacity to fight as a strong party in the opposition.”
The senior NCP leader also denied that there was a section within the NCP who were urging the party to go with the BJP. “There is such demand on part of any NCP leader…we are standing firm under Sharad Pawar’s leadership,” remarked Bhujbal.
Meanwhile, senior Congressman and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said it was not clear whether the Sena would go with the BJP if they were ready to exit the MVA as stated by Sanjay Raut. “While CM Uddhav Thackeray hasn’t said anything of the sort (exiting the MVA), is it under some sort of pressure that Sena leaders are making such statements…I do not think. Uddhav Thackeray will take such a U-turn within 24 hours. Finally, it is their internal matter and nothing is in the Congress’ hands,” added Prithviraj Chavan.
The former Congress chief minister further remarked that given the chaos brewing within the Sena, it was extremely unclear on which side the party was on and who had the authority to make such statements.