Maharashtra Political Crisis: CM Thackeray offers to step down?

Shiv Sena’s top leader Eknath Shinde along with other MLAs went incommunicado on Tuesday, fuelling speculations that a political crisis might be brewing for the alliance government in Maharashtra. This came a day after the ruling Maha Vikas Agahdi (MVA-comprising the Sena, NCP and Congress) suffered a setback in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls by losing one out of the six seats it contested.

News agency ANI reported that the Shiv Sena has decided to remove Eknath Shinde as its Legislative party leader. Sewri MLA Ajay Chaudhary to be the new Shiv Sena Legislative Party leader, according to reports.

According to reports Shinde is not alone there. He is accompanied by twenty one other ministers thereby posing a threat to the Uddhav Thackeray government.

Reportedly, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray offered to step down and make way for rebel minister Eknath Shinde.

The total strength of Maharashtra Assembly is 288. With one legislator dead, the number is down to 287. This means the majority mark in the Assembly, in the event of a trust vote, is now 144.

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The Maha Vikas Aghadi government of the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress currently has 152 legislators.

If the “missing” MLAs led by minister Eknath Shinde resign, the Sena’s number comes down to 34. That brings down the ruling coalition’s strength in the House to 130. With 22 MLAs resigning, the new majority mark in the House will be 133.

As for the current crisis in Sena, Pawar said: “This is the internal matter of Shiv Sena and not the internal matter of NCP.”

When asked if the rebel Sena leader Eknath Shinde could be made the chief minister as he is learnt to have demanded, Pawar said: “There is an understanding between the three parties (Sena, NCP and Congress). Shiv Sena has the responsibility of the CM and the Sena leadership will decide. But, there is no need for change in leadership and we have faith in Uddhav ji’s leadership,” said Pawar.

Maharashtra Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap said: “The attempts to topple this government since Day 1 is new information. They [the rebels] are hardcore Shiv Sainiks. We shall talk it out.”

Congress leader KC Venugopal said that the whole political drama in Maharashtra was orchestrated by the BJP. “The MVA will remain intact. There won’t be much of a problem for the Congress camp.”

Congress’ DK Sivakumar said that the rebel MLAs were being held against their will. “All our people will come back. They are being forcibly taken.”

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