All eyes on Uddhav Thackeray’s next move

The political crisis in Maharashtra deepened on Friday with Shiv Sena alleging that a Union minister “threatened” the head of the Nationalist Congress Party, Sharad Pawar. Meanwhile, rebel leader Eknath Shinde has claimed support from 50 MLAs.

“He is the son of Maharashtra. They are threatening you. Modi ji, Amit Shah, have you heard of it? Your minister is threatening Sharad Pawar – do you support such threats? Maharashtra wants to know,” Sanjay Raut, who had previously tweeted the allegation, told media today.

The vice president is expected today to send warnings to rebel MLAs against whom disqualification requests have been filed, party sources told NDTV. Shinde, 58, said disqualification notices against rebel MLAs were “illegal”. “What was done yesterday is illegal, they have no right. We are the majority people and numbers are important in a democracy. This is illegal, even they cannot make such a suspension. Let’s not be afraid of it,” he said.

Rebel MLAs are preparing to move the Supreme Court as soon as notices are issued for them, sources told NDTV. Eknath Shinde’s camp is also expected to move the Election Commission claiming the party and symbol, sources added.

Thirty-seven MLAs on Thursday wrote to the governor and vice president, naming Eknath Shinde the leader of the legislative party. The move came shortly after the Uddav Thackeray team filed disqualification requests for 12 rebels with the vice president.

Shinde has reached the critical number of MLAs, 37, needed to split the party in the assembly without breaking the anti-defection law. His total strength is now 42.

As the rebel group gained more numbers, Shiv Sena said on Thursday it would consider pulling out of the Maharashtra alliance with the CPN and Sharad Pawar’s Congress, but only if the rebels return “within 24 hours”.

Shinde demanded that the Sena break its alliance with Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, or PCN, saying the party’s leaders have suffered the most in the last two and a half years of the coalition’s rule.

Shiv Sena today convened a meeting of the party’s district presidents. The meeting will be chaired by Uddhav Thackeray at Shiv Sena Bhawan, Mumbai at 12:00 noon, the ANI news agency reported.

The BJP has denied the charge of designing an “Operation Lotus” in Maharashtra. A BJP minister from Assam, however, was seen in photos of Eknath Shinde and the rebels at the Guwahati hotel where they are staying.

With NDTV inputs

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