Jalgaon: Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray has warned that elections in Maharashtra could happen at any time and his party is prepared for it, hours after senior party leader Sanjay Raut predicted that the current Maharashtra government led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde will collapse within the next 15-20 days.
Addressing a public meeting in Jalgaon on Sunday, Uddhav said, “Elections in Maharashtra can happen at any time and we are prepared. The matter is in Supreme Court and we are hopeful that the eventual verdict will be in our favour. After that, anything can happen at any time.”
It may be recalled that the Uddhav Thackeray faction`s plea, challenging last year`s change of guard in Maharashtra, is still pending arbitration in the Supreme Court. The rift in undivided Shiv Sena led to present Chief Minister Eknath Shinde forming a breakaway front with over 40 loyalists.
After camping in a hotel in BJP-ruled Assam for days, the breakaway camp eventually joined hands with the BJP to bring about the demise of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – an alliance of Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena – government in Maharashtra.
The BJP and the rival Sena camp later formed the government and Eknath Shinde took oath as the chief minister, with former CM Devendra Fadnavis taking over as his deputy. While the Election Commission (EC), earlier this year, decided to allot the official ‘bow and arrow’ symbol of the Shiv Sena to the Shinde camp along with the original party name, the plea by the Uddhav camp challenging the change of guard and re-allotment of the party symbol is still sub judice at the apex court.
Uddhav on Sunday claimed he did not allow injustice to any religion during his term in office. “Today, the Maha Vikas Aghadi has completed three years of its existence. They (BJP and the Shinde camp) accuse me of abandoning Hindutva but the truth is that I did not allow injustice to any religion, bearing true allegiance to the oath of office that I took. All places of worship were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, without any discrimination,” he said.
Uddhav also dared the BJP`s state unit to declare that it would contest the next Maharashtra elections under the leadership of Eknath Shinde. Hitting out at the Shinde camp, Uddhav said, “You do not have any idea of your own and neither do you have any leader. So, you steal others` ideals and the names of someone`s father and mother to contest elections. I challenged the BJP earlier and will do so again. I dare them to declare that they will contest the coming elections under the leadership of Eknath Shinde,” he said.
Raut Is A Fake Astrolger: BJP
Sanjay Raut had on Sunday claimed the “death warrant” of the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government has been issued and it will collapse in the next 15-20 days. The ruling Shiv Sena (led by Shinde), however, dubbed Raut as a “fake astrologer” and said there are many such leaders in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena (UBT) who make such predictions.
Talking to reporters in the Jalgaon district of north Maharashtra, Raut, a key leader of former CM Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena (UBT), said his party was waiting for the court’s order and expecting justice will be done.
The Rajya Sabha member was referring to the Supreme Court’s judgement pending on a batch of pleas including one seeking disqualification of 16 Shiv Sena MLAs (of Shinde’s party) who revolted against Thackeray’s leadership. “The government of the existing chief minister and his 40 MLAs will collapse in 15-20 days. The death warrant of this government has been issued. It is now to be decided who will sign it,” Raut claimed. The Shiv Sena (UBT) leader had earlier claimed the Shinde government will collapse in February.
There are intense speculations about National Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar jumping ship from the MVA and joining BJP soon. However, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar have denied such reports. The NCP constitutes one-third of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), with Shiv Sena (UBT) and Congress being the other two partners in the tripartite alliance.