Maharashtra: How did this Shiv Sena MLA 'escape' rebel camp?
Shiv Sena's Osmanabad legislator Kailas Patil had a daring escape from the rebel camp early Tuesday. The development took place when a bevy of party legislators led by Eknath Shinde was on their way to Gujarat. Patil claimed he managed to escape near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and eventually made his way to Sena chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray's official residence, Hindustan Times reported.
A number of MLAs, including Patil, were being taken to meet Eknath Shinde on the pretext of a dinner in Thane. After escaping near the border, Patil claimed he walked for at least 5km and even hitched rides on a bike and a truck to reach Mumbai. He also contacted the chief minister's official residence and briefed the Sena head on what transpired.
After voting for the Maharashtra Legislative Council elections ended on Monday, some MLAs were told they were being taken to dinner and split into groups of three. After traveling for some time, they were informed Shinde would meet them at Palghar district's Talasari border checkpoint. Sensing something was wrong—after reaching Talasari—Patil pretended to answer nature's call and allegedly escaped under the cover of darkness.
A Sena functionary aware of the development told HT Patil walked 5km in rain, hitched a bike ride, and even requested a truck driver a ride to reach Mumbai. He reached Dahisar's check post at around 1:30 am and contacted Uddhav Thackeray's office. The CM's staff arranged a vehicle, which ferried him to Thackeray's official Malabar Hill residence at around 2:15 am on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday hinted at the dissolution of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly just hours after rebel MLA Shinde claimed that he has 40 MLAs with him. Shinde, who left Mumbai for Surat on Monday evening, reportedly arrived in Guwahati early on Wednesday morning and was received by the BJP leaders there.
Meanwhile, Congress said it would continue to support the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, while Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar described the turmoil as Sena's "internal matter." Meanwhile, some reports claim the rebel MLAs might write to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari seeking a floor test in the Assembly. Moreover, Thackeray—who tested COVID-19 positive—addressed the state virtually on Wednesday evening over the issue.
Shinde, who was the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly in 2014 after the Sena and BJP parted ways, had been instrumental in strengthening the party's presence in Thane. However, he apparently felt sidelined in the MVA in spite of being given a Cabinet post. Meanwhile, the Sena requested the Deputy Speaker to give Ajay Chaudhary the Legislative Party leader's post, replacing Shinde.
Amid the apparent turmoil in the Sena camp, an anonymous state Congress minister on Tuesday claimed that Shinde wants to become the deputy chief minister and hence there has been unrest within the Sena for about a week now. On the other hand, senior NCP leader and minister Chhagan Bhujbal alleged Sena and Congress MLAs cross-voted in the recent Maharashtra Legislative Council polls.