'Will soon go to Mumbai', says rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde outside Guwahati hotel
Shinde claimed that he has support of 50 MLAs and challenged CM Uddhav Thackeray to reveal the number of MLAs who are siding with him.
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde on Tuesday said he will soon return to Mumbai, and rubbished the Sena's claim that as many as 20 MLAs of his group are in touch with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
Talking to reporters outside the luxury hotel where he and his group of MLAs are lodged since last week, Shinde also said he has the support of 50 MLAs.
"All these MLAs have come here on their own and to take forward Hindutva," Shinde said.
Senior Sena leaders have been claiming that around 20 MLAs of the party, now with Shinde in Guwahati, are in touch with them and want to return to Maharashtra.
Shinde said, "Some people from that side are claiming that some MLAs here are in touch with them. If it is the case, then they should reveal their names."
"Our stand is clear. To take forward the Shiv Sena, dreamt of by late Balasaheb Thackeray. We will continue to toe the line of his Hindutva," he said.
Shinde said Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar will be speaking to media on behalf of the rebel legislators and brief reporters about their next steps.
"No need to worry about the MLAs here. All the MLAs are happy and fine. Nobody is here for any personal benefit," he said.
Since landing in Assam's Guwahati city, Shinde has most of the time remained indoors.
On Tuesday, he came out of the hotel, where he is camping, with a couple of his close associates to make the brief statement.
Shiv Sena minister Uday Samant, who is also part of the rebel camp, said none of the legislators staying in Guwahati are in touch with any party leader in Mumbai.
"We are not in touch with any Shiv Sena leader in Mumbai. We are in touch only with Eknath Shinde," Samant in a pre-recorded video statement.
"No need to have any misunderstanding. We have voluntarily came here with Shinde, who has sincerely carried forward the idea of Hindutva conceptualised by Balasaheb Thackeray," he added.
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar on Tuesday suggested that the saffron party is waiting for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to declare that they don't have the numbers.
He reiterated that the BJP is in a wait-and-watch mode and that it does not need to prove a majority on the floor of the House as of now.
The political crisis triggered by Shinde's rebellion with a majority of MLAs of his party entered the next phase with the Supreme Court on Monday keeping in abeyance the disqualification proceedings of 16 rebels before the Deputy Speaker till July 11 and also refusing to pass any interim order on the state government's plea that there should not be any floor test in the Assembly.
Speaking to reporters at the Nagpur airport, Mungantiwar said, "We have decided to wait and watch.
Considering the present situation, a core team will be formed in the coming days, which will deliberate on the subject and then a decision will be taken."
The former finance minister further said that the BJP does not need to prove the majority as of now.
"The party is now waiting to see when the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance will declare that it is in minority (that they lacked numbers in House)".
Asked if BJP MLAs from the Vidarbha region will be herded to Mumbai after holding a meeting of legislators in Nagpur, Mungantiwar maintained that he had not come to take the MLAs to Mumbai, and it was an organisational meeting to discuss ways to take welfare schemes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to people.
(With PTI Inputs)