Shiv Sena issues ultimatum to MLAs as Maha political crisis escalates, order 'legally invalid', says Eknath Shinde


Mumbai: Struggling to tide over the internecine crisis, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday asked all its MLAs in Maharashtra, including the rebels accompanying dissident leader Eknath Shinde, to attend a legislature party meeting here at 5 PM or face action under the anti-defection law.

Hitting back, Shinde, who is camping in Guwahati with a section of Sena MLAs loyal to him, said the orders issued by Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu are "legally invalid" as MLA Bharat Gogawale is being appointed as the party chief whip.

Prabhu has written a letter and issued it to some Sena ministers, including the minister of state for Home Shambhuraj Desai who is currently staying with Shinde in Guwahati.

"The Shiv Sena has called for an urgent meeting today evening at 'Varsha' bungalow as there have been attempts to make the MVA government unstable. The details regarding the meeting have been shared with all the members (MLAs) on their registered e-mail address, Whatsapp and by way of SMS.

"You cannot remain absent from the meeting without providing a valid and sufficient reason. If you do not attend the meeting, it would be presumed that you have a clear intention of leaving the party. Hence, there will be action taken against you based on the provisions for preventing anti-defection," the letter said.

'Varsha' is the official residence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

"Shiv Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale has been appointed as the chief whip of the Sena legislature. The orders issued by Sunil Prabhu about the meeting of MLAs are legally invalid," Shinde tweeted.

A day earlier, the Sena had removed Shinde as its group leader in the Legislative Assembly.

The Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs in the Assembly. Shinde had said he has 46 MLAs supporting him.

I have more numbers (of Shiv Sena MLAs) than needed (to form a separate group in the Assembly without inviting the anti-defection law provisions), he told a Marathi TV channel.

The Shiv Sena-led MVA is tottering on the brink following the rebellion by Shinde who left Mumbai on Monday night with a sizeable number of MLAs and travelled to Surat in Gujarat.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Shinde and rebel MLAs accompanying him were flown to Guwahati.

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