Could the split in the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, which ultimately led to the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government last year, been avoided if Uddhav Thackeray had paid heed to Nationalist Congress Party's warnings?
One cannot say for sure, but NCP president Sharad Pawar and some others in the party had forewarned then Maharashtra chief minister Thackeray about a possible rebellion in Shiv Sena.
"Pawar saheb (Sharad Pawar) himself had informed Thackeray. Pawar saheb had even phoned Thackeray and told him about it (possible rebellion in Shiv Sena). However, Uddhavji had said he trusts his MLAs and was confident they will not take such an extreme step," said NCP leader Ajit Pawar in an interview with Lokmat.
A section of MLAs of the undivided Shiv Sena, led by then-Cabinet minister Eknath Shinde, had rebelled against Thackeray's leadership in June last year, leading to the collapse of the MVA coalition government. The rebel MLAs then teamed up with the BJP to form a government under Shinde's leadership.
Pawar, whose party was a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led MVA along with the Congress, served as deputy chief minister in the Thackeray cabinet.
The former deputy CM said when the first group of 15 to 16 rebel Sena MLAs went with Shinde, there was an urgent need to keep the remaining flock together. But no such urgency was shown and MLAs were allowed to go wherever they wanted. Ultimately, 40 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs joined the Shinde camp.
"There was an attempt to break the trust of (Sena) MLAs. We can say some people remained unattentive," he said without naming anybody.
Asked when he got to know that trouble was brewing in the Thackeray-led party, the NCP leader said he heard murmurs six months before the actual rebellion in June 2022. "I had warned Uddhavji about it. Uddhavji said he had also heard the same and told me he would speak to Eknath Shinde. He (Thackeray) had said it was an internal party issue and that he would resolve it," Pawar said.
Maharashtra Legislative Council polls boost to MVA
Meanwhile, the Congress on Friday won the Amravati division graduates constituency, taking the tally of the MVA to three in elections for five Maharashtra Legislative Council seats, a result which has come as a jolt to the ruling BJP-Balasahebnachi Shiv Sena alliance.
Congress candidate Dhiraj Lingade won the Amravati constituency, where counting started on Thursday morning and stretched to more than 32 hours and went on till late Friday afternoon, by defeating sitting legislator Ranjit Patil of the BJP. Thus, the Congress has snatched the seat from the BJP. With this, poll results of all the five seats from teachers and graduates segments of the Council are now available and the outcome shows the MVA, comprising the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Congress and the NCP, has emerged as the clear winner.