The Shiv Sena on Tuesday afternoon removed Eknath Shinde as the party’s chief whip. The development came hours after the Maharashtra minister and a group of other Shiv Sena MLAs moved to a hotel in Surat, giving rise to speculation about them breaking away from the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi state government.
More than 20 MLAs, who are reportedly with Shinde, went incommunicado on Monday soon after speculation rose about cross-voting in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state Legislative Council polls on Monday.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut accused the BJP of attempting to topple the state government.
Meanwhile, in a tweet Shinde, described himself as a “staunch Shiv Sainik”, adding that the party’s founder Balasaheb Thackeray had taught him Hindutva.
The Maharashtra government is a coalition of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party and has a support of 169 MLAs in the 288-member Assembly. If Shinde and the other Shiv Sena MLAs indeed do decide to leave the alliance, the number would come down worryingly close to the majority mark of 145.
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