Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs travelling in a bus from the airport in Mumbai after arriving in the city from Goa on Saturday July 2, 2022.
Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs travelling in a bus from the airport in Mumbai after arriving in the city from Goa on Saturday July 2, 2022. Nitin Lawate/IANS

Maharashtra: Shiv Sena rebel MLAs return to Mumbai after 12 days

Mumbai, July 2, 2022

After remaining on the move for 12 days, jet-setting to three states and successfully toppling the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra led by Uddhav Thackeray, the rebel MLAs of the Shiv Sena, along with some legislators belonging to smaller parties and independents, returned to their home state late on Saturday.

Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who had gone to Goa to fetch them, travelled with them in a special flight, a convoy of deluxe buses, flanked by security vehicles, zooming through a "green corridor" to the Hotel Taj President in Cuffe Parade.

The MLAs will put up at the hotel before travelling three kms to Vidhan Bhavan in Nariman Point to attend the 2-day special session of Maharashtra Assembly on Sunday and Monday to elect a new Speaker and vote in the motion of confidence in the Shinde government.

Traffic was halted on almost the entire 27-km route from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport to Cuffe Parade, with tight security on both sides as a precaution.

A battery of top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionaries led by its state President Chandrakant Patil accorded them a conquerors' welcome at the hotel late this evening.

On the night of June 20, the rebels had quietly gone incommunicado and by June 21 morning, all political hell broke loose as the "rebellion" came to the fore, shaking the 30-month-old MVA regime headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Initially, the rebels spent a night in Gujarat's Surat, then flew to Guwahati in Assam for around a week, and then to Goa for the past 3 days, always remaining out of "reach" of the desperate Shiv Sena leaders in Mumbai hoping to win - and wean - them back.

Probably sensing the writing on the wall, after a fervent appeal to the deserters, Thackeray vacated his official residence "Varsha" on June 22, and shifted to his private home "Matoshri".

As the political crisis became deeper, Thackeray resigned as the CM and also quit as MLC on the night of June 29 - after an emotional address to the state on social media.

The next day, June 30, the BJP sprang a massive surprise by supporting the rebel group leader Eknath Shinde for the top post, and hours later the BJP central leadership dropped a bolt by insisting former CM Devendra Fadnavis join the new government as Deputy Chief Minister.

The same evening, Shinde and Fadnavis took oath as Chief Minister and Deputy CM, finally drawing the curtain on the unprecedented political upheaval that rocked the state for 10 days.

Shortly after their arrival at the hotel, the BJP and Shinde group MLAs', besides independents and smaller parties, numbering around 170, got into their first face-to-face joint meeting to finalise their political strategies for the next couple of days.

Following the Speaker's election on Sunday - with a contest between BJP's Rahul Narwekar and MVA's Sena MLA Rajan Salvi - and the confidence vote scheduled on Monday, the process of expansion of the two-man Cabinet, currently comprising Shinde and Fadnavis, is likely to be set rolling.

IANS

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