Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who led a coup against Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, has now staked claim over the party in the final act of his rebellion backed by the BJP.
Eknath Shinde has written to the Election Commission that the Uddhav Thackeray-appointed national executive of the Shiv Sena is dissolved, and that he has formed a new body.
The new national executive has been formed by a majority of Shiv Sena leaders, Mr Shinde has written. The majority Mr Shinde refers to is the rebel group led by him.
This is his first formal move to dislodge Uddhav Thackeray as the leader of the Shiv Sena that was founded by his father Bal Thackeray.
Mr Shinde’s big move comes on a day the Supreme Court will take up six petitions that will effectively decide who is in charge of the Shiv Sena after a stunning revolt that saw most party leaders deserting Uddhav Thackeray over the past few weeks.
The Supreme Court will take up petitions linked to the rebellion and various decisions taken in the lead-up to the fall of the Uddhav Thackeray government in Maharashtra.
Uddhav Thackeray, whose government collapsed after most MLAs of his party joined Eknath Shinde’s revolt, has alleged that agencies like the Enforcement Directorate were used to drive MLAs and MPs to rebel against his leadership.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, one of the few who remains in team Thackeray, has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in Mumbai for questioning today in connection with money-laundering allegations.
Mr Raut says he has been enticed and pressured but he will not rebel against the Thackerays. He has sought exemption from the agency today citing the ongoing parliament session and his presence in the national capital for the monsoon session of parliament.
Eknath Shinde, however, has left a door open for a patch-up with the Thackerays with the new leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, Rahul Shewale, saying they still consider Uddhav Thackeray their leader. Eknath Shinde also told reporters that he has not become “Paksh Pramukh” (party chief) of the Shiva Sena, a position held by Uddhav Thackeray.
Rahul Shewale was recognised as the leader of the Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha after 12 MPs, who have switched to team Shinde, wrote to the Speaker saying they were a separate group.