A day after making an impassioned plea to the party rebels to talk to him as a first to resolving all the issues they had, Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is also the Shiv Sena chief on Wednesday resigned from the Chief Minister's post. Stating that he was not interested "in playing the numbers' game, the CM said, "I am also quitting as member of Legislative Council". Thackeray made the announcement in a webcast, while appealing the workers of his party not to take to the streets in protest.
Thackeray's announcement came minutes after the Supreme Court refused to stay Maharashtra Governor's direction to the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress Maha Vikas Aghadi government to take a floor test in the Assembly on Thursday.
He had no regret leaving his post, Thackeray, who was facing a rebellion by majority of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde, said.
Thackeray, who heads the Shiv Sena, appealed to Sena workers to allow the rebel legislators to return and not take to the streets in protest.
The rebels, earlier in the evening, left Guwahati where they were camping for over a week, and landed in Goa.
"Let the rebels who grew politically because of Shiv Sena and Balasaheb Thackeray get joy and satisfaction of pulling down his son from the post of chief minister," Uddhav Thackeray said.
"I don't want to get into the numbers game. It would be shameful for me to see if even one of my own party colleagues stands against me," he said.
Previously in his appeal on Wednesday, Thackeray had told the rebels to not fall prey to “anyone’s false promises” and asked them to come back and sort the issues that were bothering them. Two days ago the rebels had written an emotional letter to Thackeray asking him to break off with the NCP and the Congress Party and form a government with the BJP.
The resignation came amid emotional pleas both sides in the hope of gaining MLAs and a prolonged wait and watch game for both - the Shiv Sena and the rebel faction of the party ensconced in an upscale hotel in Guwahati. It is also a game of patience for both sides – one led by Thackeray and the other by the splinter group head Eknath Shinde. The bigger question was: who will blink first? It seems Shinde has won.
With the Supreme Court ordering status quo until July 12, in a petition filed by the rebel faction challenging their disqualification by the deputy speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Narhari Zirwal, the power struggle between the factions has intensified. Shinde faces the challenge of keeping together his flock – the Shiv Sena MLAs who support him – until July 12. Thackeray had been banking on the long period of wait to draw back some of the rebels back into the Shiv Sena stable.
The rebels have challenged the disqualification notices issued to them by deputy speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Narhari Zirwal. According to the Anti-Defection Act, a legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his part or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his / her membership of the House. Therefore, if the rebels vote against the anti-trust vote on a whip issued by the Shiv Sena, it will be a clear case of defection.
The other option is that since the rebel faction has two-thirds of the MLAs of the Shiv Sena with them, they can form a separate group to avoid disqualification. However, this group will then have to merge with another political party to avoid being disqualified. Those with Shinde are not keen on merging their identity with another political party as they want to stay relevant as the Shiv Sena’s rebel faction. According to sources there is mass confusion in the rebel camp as Shinde is undecided about merging his rebel group either with the BJP or the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). Raj Thackeray had reached out to the rebels offering his party as a platform for the merger of their group as his party is splintered from the Shiv Sena. “Many of the rebel MLAs do not want a political merger. They want to be known as the Shiv Sena. There will be a long drawn out battle between the deputy speaker, state Governor and the Election Commission,” said sources.
According to information from those in the know of events the rebel MLAs are getting jittery. “Some want to come back to the Shiv Sena,” said the source to Outlook. Uddhv had apparently been banking on this build up of emotion.
Uddhav's resignation will act as a crucial decider in this power struggle.
(With inputs from PTI)