Maharashtra crisis: Shiv Sena free to chart own path, say MVA leaders as Sanjay Raut’s message to dissident MLAs sparks row

Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance partners Congress and NCP on Thursday said that the Shiv Sena is free to join anyone after the party’s chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut told ‘rebel’ party MLAs that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would consider walking out of an alliance with Congress and NCP if they returned to Mumbai within 24 hours. The Rajya Sabha MP asked state minister Eknath Shinde and other ‘rebel’ legislators to return, Raut said that the Shiv Sena will try to honour their requests after Shinde termed the ruling MVA an “unnatural alliance.”

“Shiv Sena is ready to walk out of MVA government in Maharashtra, but party rebels should return to Mumbai (from Guwahati) in 24 hours,” the senior Shiv Sena leader said. Many leaders from the ‘rebel’ camp, including Shinde, had asked the Sena to re-align with the BJP.

Raut’s message suggesting a re-think on Shiv Sena’s alliance with the NCP and Congress drew a sharp response from both parties. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole said that the party doesn’t have any issues with whichever party the Sena wishes to ally with. “We are with them (Shiv Sena) to stop the BJP from coming to power. This game is happening due to the ED… Congress is ready for a floor test. If they (Shiv Sena) want to form an alliance with anyone, we don’t have a problem.” Patole was quoted as saying to news agency ANI.

Reacting to Raut’s statement, NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal told reporters, “If what Sanjay Raut said is correct…if they (Shiv Sena) want to go on that path (exit MVA) then they should talk to our leader NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Nobody can stop them, every party can go on their own path.”

Meanwhile, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar was visibly upset at a meeting with state Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and state unit party chief Jayant Patil over how the state government machinery was caught napping even amid the mass movement of Shiv Sena legislators out of Maharashtra, reported The Indian Express. He was shocked at how the MVA leadership was caught off-guard because of this “intelligence failure,” the IE further reported.

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