As the crisis for Uddhav Thackeray’s government deepened on Friday, police in Maharashtra went on high alert in the evening after getting information that workers of the Shiv Sena might “take to the streets in large numbers”. Supporters, meanwhile, started gathering at the Thackeray family residence, Matoshri, raising slogans and beating drums to express support for the chief minister.
This came a short while after an emotional Uddhav Thackeray told party workers during a virtual meeting that the rebels were “trying to break” the Sena. “Without using the names of Shiv Sena and Thackeray, how will you move ahead?” Mr Thackeray said, targeting the rebels.
Those gathered outside Matoshri said they came from Mulund and wanted to show support to the leader during this difficult time. Two days ago, a large number of Shiv Sainiks had gathered when Uddhav Thackeray left the official chief minister residence to shift to the family home.
Despite the show of strength by party workers on Friday evening, Uddhav Thackeray’s chances to keep the chair looked bleak. Latest developments suggested that the rebel leader, Eknath Shinde, has the critical number of MLAs, 37, required to split the Shiv Sena in the assembly without falling foul of the anti-defection law.
All Police stations in Maharashtra, especially those in Mumbai, have been ordered to remain on high alert. Police received info that Shiv Sainiks can take to the streets in large numbers. To ensure that peace prevails, Police have been asked to remain alert: Maharashtra Police pic.twitter.com/V8QGL0NRYR
— ANI (@ANI) June 24, 2022
Eknath Shinde has said the Sena’s alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress in Maharashtra is “unnatural”, and that it should restore its pact with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
But the Shiv Sena has come out aggressively against the allegation that the party had deserted Hindutva as its ideology. Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said in an interview with NDTV on Friday evening, “Which Hindutva teaches you to stab your party, which is like a family, in the back?”. She said ideology is being used as an alibi for the “BJP-backed” rebellion.