Maharashtra minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jayant Patil said Thursday his party would back beleaguered Uddhav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena, while also urging the chief minister to do everything possible to save his government. Patil told reporters that senior NCP leaders met at party chief Sharad Pawar’s home this morning to review political developments in the state with the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition on the verge of collapse.
“He must try to save his government. We are confident (that) when the Shiv Sena MLAs who have gone out of Maharashtra return, then things will be sorted out,” he said.
Patil also explained Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to move out of Varsha (the Maharashtra chief minister’s official residence) and back to his family home of Matoshree. Thackeray left late last night, shortly after a calculated challenge to rebel MLAs.
“He has just vacated the bungalow, but he is the chief minister and will continue. We are confident that all their MLAs will return,” Patil said.
Hitting out at Eknath Shinde – who has orchestrated this rebellion against Thackeray and the MVA government, and who is now in BJP-ruled Assam with other rebels – Patil said, “I don’t think that to form a government in one state you can show your strength in another… He (Shinde) has to come here to show his MLAs to the governor…”
Patil also said that at 5 pm, all NCP MLAs have been invited for a briefing on the ongoing developments, adding that Sharad Pawar will be present.
Shinde, meanwhile, has complained that while the NCP and the Congress (allied with the Sena as part of the MVA) are growing stronger, the Shiv Sena – which heads the coalition – is being systematically weakened.
Also on Thursday six more MLAs switched sides to join Shinde, whose camp strength is now believed to have gone to 38 – one more than neded to split the Sena without facing the anti-defection law.