As the number of Shiv Sena MLAs who support rebel leader Eknath Shinde has risen from 11 to nearly 40, it appears that fears of losing seats to the NCP and the Congress, allies in the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government, have also pushed some of the MLAs to the rebel camp.
All the five Sena legislators from the NCP stronghold of western Maharashta—two from Satara and one each from Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur—have joined the Shinde camp. The party has no MLA in Pune, the fifth district in the west.
The five legislators are Anil Babar from Khanapur in Sangli district, Prakashrao Abitkar from Radhanagari in Kolhapur, Shambhuraje Desai from Patan in Satara, Mahesh Shinde of Koregaon in Satara and Shahaji Patil from Sangola in Solapur district. Independent legislator Rajendra Patil of Shirol from Kolhapur, who was made a minister after he extended support to the Shiv Sena, has also joined Shinde.
“I have extended support to Shinde in the interest of the development of the Khanapur Assembly constituency. The development work, mainly an irrigation project, has got stuck and despite raising it with the chief minister, there has been no progress. Moreover, it is learnt that the Khanapur constituency, which I have been representing in the Assembly now, is likely to go to the NCP if future elections are contested in a pre-poll alliance,” said Babar.
With the Shinde camp claiming that more Sena MLAs will join it, the party has sent notices to all its legislators directing them to attend a party meeting or face action.
Earlier, senior Sena legislator Deepak Kesarkar, who has been with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, said he had conveyed party legislators’ disquiet over the alliance with the Congress and the NCP.
“I have been conveying the unrest of Sena legislators to the chief minister for the past one and a half years. Sena legislators are not comfortable with the Congress and the NCP. They have not revolted against the party or its leadership, but against the Congress and NCP legislators,” he told a news channel.