The rebel group led by Shiv Sena leader crossed the magic figure of 37, further pushing the MVA government to the brink. Shinde claimed to have got support 40 out of 55 Sena MLAs, thereby crossed the mark of 37 (two-third of the party’s strength) needed to avoid anti-defection law.
While Shinde claimed backing of 40 MLAs, party leader Sanjay Raut said at least half of them were “in touch” to come back.
However, the fact that Thackeray has been reduced to a minority chief in the party was evident from the meeting called by him which was attended by only 13 MLAs this afternoon.
The Indian Express quoted a rebel MLA saying that the next move will be to establish that the Shinde-led faction was the “real Sena”.
“We have crossed the first hurdle. Now, technicalities to assert our identity through formation of a party under Shinde’s leadership are underway. We are fighting to establish that the Eknath Shinde-led group is the real Sena,” the MLA, who did not wish to be named, was quoted by The Indian Express.
If Shinde is able to hold on to the numbers, he can seek a separate group status. Whether this group wants to be recognised as the real Sena, or a new outfit or merge with any other party remains to be determined.
According to The Indian Express, Thackeray-led Sena has 18 MLAs which put the MVA’s total tally at 115, combining Congress’ 44 and NCP’s 53. This is 29 short of the half-way mark of 144 in the Assembly, whose strength is down to 287 after the death of a Sena MLA.
Already seven MLAs belonging to smaller parties or Independents have gravitated towards the Shinde group. They include two members of the Prahar Janashakti led by Bacchu Kadu.
An indication of where these floating votes were headed came in the recent Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council polls where the BJP got additional 17 and 27 votes, respectively – logically from among them.
The BJP is the single-largest party with 106 MLAs in the current House, and with Shinde’s claim of 40, it seems home and dry. The saffron party, however, continues to be on ‘wait and watch’ mode, not making any desperate attempts towards Shinde, at least publicly.