Mumbai, June 22: Forty Maharashtra MLAs, including 33 Shiv Sena and seven independent MLAs, exhorted their support to rebel Shiv Sena leader and state Cabinet Minister Eknath Shinde by signing a letter, said sources.
Sources said the rebel legislators might write to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari seeking for floor test in the state Legislative Assembly. The 40 MLAs led by Shinde arrived at a luxury hotel in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam on Wednesday. The revolt in the Shiv Sena has given rise to speculations that Eknath Shinde along with other MLAs might join the BJP in a bid to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
"A total of 40 MLAs are present here. We will carry Balasaheb Thackeray's Hindutva," said Shinde after arriving in Guwahati. The Shiv Sena MLAs were received by BJP MLA Sushanta Borgohain and BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das at Guwahati airport.
Shinde along with Shiv Sena and independent legislatures was staying in a hotel in Gujarat's Surat following the cross-voting in Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) polls and took flight earlier on Wednesday to reach Guwahati.
Before leaving for Guwahati, a video was released in which all rebel MLAs are seen sitting together in a Surat hotel. In another video, all MLAs are seen putting their signatures on paper. It is believed that by releasing the video, the Eknath Shinde faction demonstrated its strength with the number of MLAs.
The Shiv Sena throughout Tuesday continued to say that only 10 to 15 MLAs are with Shinde, however, after the video, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's claim stood false.
Notably, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called a state Cabinet meeting at 1 pm on Wednesday. In the wake of the recent political developments in Maharashtra, Congress deputed its senior leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath as All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer in the state.
"The Congress president has deputed Kamal Nath AICC observer in the wake of recent political developments in the state, with immediate effect," Congress said in an official statement.
On the other hand, when Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar was asked about the crisis in MVA, he termed the turmoil "an internal matter of the Sena". Pawar also said he remained fully committed to the three-party government. He also ruled out any tie-up with the opposition BJP.
The developments came up after suspected cross-voting in Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) elections in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged five seats, in a major blow to the MVA alliance government. NCP and Shiv Sena won two each while Congress was able to clinch one seat out of the total 10 seats in Legislative Council that went to the polls on Monday.