Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s loyalist and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday challenged the party’s rebel camp led by Eknath Shinde to a floor test in the assembly, while also telling them that their chance to return to the party is still not lost. On the rebels’ demand that Shiv Sena should break up with the NCP and Congress to ally with the BJP and form a new government, he said, “You (the rebels) should merge with the BJP. Shiv Sena remains our party.”
Speaking to NDTV, Mr Raut responded to the Shinde camp’s allegations that the chief minister’s house ‘Varsha’ remained out of bounds for party legislators, “These are just excuses. For a year there were Covid restrictions; and then Chief Minister Thackeray was unwell for six months.”
Mr Raut said Eknath Shinde was part of every decision. “You (Mr Shinde) had the duty to talk to MLAs and resolve their issues. In the party and the state cabinet, Mr Shinde was given important posts so that he would keep the leaders and workers together. Uddhav ji or you alone could not do everything; it was a collective responsibility. Instead of doing your duty, you created a division in the party,” he said.
Taking a combative stance, Mr Raut further said, “In the times of Balasaheb Thackeray, too, a lot of people left the party. We rebuilt the party and brought it to power. This is an open challenge from Uddhav ji and me, that we will rebuild the party again; and we will return to power.”
“Let these MLAs come to the floor of the House. We will see then. These MLAs will find it hard to come and walk around in Maharashtra now,” he added.