Union minister and BJP leader Narayan Rane on Tuesday demanded the resignation of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray alleging that he lacked the support of sufficient MLAs in the Assembly in view of the revolt by Sena minister Eknath Shinde who is camping in Surat with some MLAs of his party.
Though Shinde is yet to spell out his stand, Rane, a former Shiv Sainik, said Shinde has taken an "appropriate decision" to separate from Shiv Sena.
"Because of Shinde's move, Uddhav Thackeray (who heads Shiv Sena) does not have the support of sufficient MLAs in the Legislative Assembly. He should tender his resignation," Rane demanded.
Rane is the first Union minister and BJP leader to take a public stand over the issue.
So far, several BJP leaders have been trading cautiously over Eknath Shinde's decision to go incommunicado and camp in Surat with MLAs.
"Shinde was not treated with respect in Shiv Sena by party chief Uddhav Thackeray. Thackeray's son and cabinet minister Aaditya and his cousin brother Varun Sardesai were also interfering in the Shinde-controlled Urban Development department. Hence, it is the right decision for him to leave Sena," Rane said.
He said the picture will become clear in Maharashtra in the next 24 hours.
Rane claimed that only 11 MLAs of the Sena were present at the meeting convened by Thackeray at his official residence 'Varsha' in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had claimed that at least 30 MLAs attended the meeting at 'Varsha' while 14-15 MLAs are accompanying Shinde in Surat.
The Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs in the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
(With PTI inputs)