No question of taking back rebels, say Uddhav, Sharad Pawar

Shinde camp pooh-poohed the assertion, says nobody is interested in going back

Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar

Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP (SP) supremo Sharad Pawar on Saturday stated categorically that there was no question of taking back those who sided with the rebel factions. 

The two leaders were speaking at a joint press conference of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) of the Sena (UBT), NCP(SP) and Congress, first after the Opposition alliance outperformed the ruling coalition in the Lok Sabha elections in Maharashtra.  

An MLA of the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, however, pooh-poohed the assertion, stating that nobody was interested in going back.   

During the press conference here, both Thackeray and Sharad Pawar said "there is no question of taking rebel leaders back". 

Reacting to the statement, Sanjay Shirsat, an MLA of the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, said Thackeray should first take care of his own flock.  

"Who is going, in the first place? It is not that anybody from our side went to `Matoshree' (Thackeray's residence) and was thrown out. We have no interest in going back there. They should take care of their people," he said. 

The Shiv Sena split in June 2022 after Eknath Shinde rebelled along with 39 MLAs and toppled the Thackeray-led MVA government. Shinde then became chief minister by joining hands with the BJP. One year later, the Nationalist Congress Party also broke into two factions as Ajit Pawar joined the government along with eight MLAs. 

But after the MVA won 30 out of 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in the recent general elections, there was speculation that some leaders may return to the parties led by Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar, respectively.  

Notably, Parner MLA Nilesh Lanke left the Ajit Pawar-led NCP just before the Lok Sabha elections. Lanke contested from Ahmednagar seat on the NCP (SP) ticket and defeated sitting BJP MP Sujay Vikhe Patil. Bajrang Sonawane also left the Ajit Pawar-led NCP and contested the Lok Sabha polls from Beed on NCP (SP) ticket. He defeated former state minister and BJP candidate Pankaja Munde. 

There is reportedly discontent within the NCP and the Shiv Sena, allies of the ruling BJP, over the allotment of portfolios in the Centre.  

The Ajit Pawar-led party was offered only a Minister of State post with independent charge, which it refused, while only one Shiv Sena MP -- Prataprao Jadhav -- was included in the Union government as MoS (independent charge) though the Shinde-led party has seven MPs.

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