Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut today downplayed the threat of an impending coup in his party, calling its prime planner Eknath Shinde a “close friend”. At the same time, he said: “Power is fleeting. Zyaada se zyaada kya hoga, satta jayegi. (What’s the worse that can happen? We’ll lose power).”
Mr Raut claimed he had spoken “for one hour” this morning with rebel leader Eknath Shinde, who claims to have enough MLAs with him to split the Shiv Sena.
Mr Shinde, who flew from Gujarat to Assam – both BJP-ruled states – claims he has the support of 40 MLAs out of the Sena’s 55 and six independents. Hosted and escorted by the BJP, the MLAs checked into a Guwahati five-star hotel early this morning, hours after Shiv Sena Chief and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray reached out to Mr Shinde.
“Eknath Shinde is a close friend. We have worked together for years and it is not easy to end such ties. We are in talks with him. I am in touch with the MLAs is Guwahati,” Mr Raut told reporters, insisting that all the rebels would return to Mumbai soon.
“Eknath Shinde is a true Shiv Sainik. Talk of Shiv Sena splitting is completely baseless.”
He denied that Mr Shinde had set any terms for the Sena.
“We had a positive chat. There is no bad blood between us. We share many secrets and we have the same bond with Uddhav Thackeray. The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is with Uddhav-ji and we have also spoken to (NCP ally) Sharad Pawar,” Mr Raut said.
“The party’s pride is above all else. The BJP’s dreams of toppling the government will never come true,” he asserted.