Shiv Sena replaces Eknath Shinde as legislative party leader, reaches out to him | Mumbai news

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The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena on Tuesday removed minister Eknath Shinde as the Sena’s legislative party leader after the 58-year-old leader, seen within the party as a go-getter, went incommunicado after the legislative council elections along with a group of lawmakers.

Sena leader Sanjay Raut announced the move to replace Shinde with Shivadi legislator Ajay Chaudhary on Tuesday afternoon even as the party made efforts to reach out to Shinde and an unspecified number of legislators who are believed to be in a Surat hotel.

“Two senior party leaders have gone to meet Eknath Shinde. We will wait and see,” Raut said after the party was able to touch base with Shinde. He also underlined that the party would like Shinde to return to Maharashtra and hold discussions.

Also Read | How Eknath Shinde rose through Sena ranks

“Eknath Shinde is our colleague. If there are any misunderstandings, they can be resolved.”

But the Sena leaders may not be the only visitors Shinde has in the luxury Surat hotel that has been turned a fortress by the state police.

Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said some BJP legislators were also headed to meet Eknath Shinde in their “personal capacity”. If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) receives any proposal from Eknath Shinde to form a government, they would “definitely consider it,” he said, adding that the party did not have anything to do with the internal dispute within the Sena.

Raut dismissed the claim.

The Sena MLAs are being kept under the watch of the Gujarat police (where the BJP is in power). Some of the MLAs have said that their lives are in danger,” he said.

Also Read | BJP, allies over two dozen seats short of halfway mark in Maharashtra

Raut said families of nine Sena lawmakers who are believed to be in Gujarat’s Surat have filed police complaints expressing concern about their safety. “The Mumbai Police will have to take strict action,” he said. The Sena MP, however, did not elaborate on the options before the police in the BJP-ruled state.

Shinde, who is at the centre of the political crisis and is said to be weighing his options, however, said in a post on Twitter that he will never “cheat for power” and abandon the teachings of Bal Thackeray.

“We are staunch Shiv Sainiks of Balasaheb who gave us lessons on Hindutva. We will never cheat for power and will never abandon the teachings of Balasaheb and Anand Dighe for power,” Shinde said in a post in Marathi.

The late Dighe, a Shiv Sena stalwart from Thane, was Shinde’s political mentor.


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