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Govt teeters on the brink of collapse in Maharashtra



Mumbai/Guwahati: Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government teetered on the brink of collapse on Thursday with Shiv Sena rebels set to break away and the party hinting for the first time that it was open to leaving the coalition if the dissidents came back.

The ranks of the rebels, led by state minister Eknath Shinde, swelled after seven more legislators flew from Maharashtra to Guwahati, where the dissidents have camped for two days. The group now has 39 legislators, slightly more than the 37 required under the anti-defection law to break away without attracting disqualification.

As the Sena haemorrhaged legislators to the rebel faction, the party said for the first time that it was willing to consider leaving the ruling alliance if the dissidents came back and discussed it with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The MVA came together in 2019 after the Sena broke its 25-year-old alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“You say you are real Shiv Sainiks and will not quit the party. We are ready to consider your demand provided you come back to Mumbai within 24 hours and discuss the issue with CM Uddhav Thackeray. Your demand will be considered positively. Don’t write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp,” Sanjay Raut, whom some rebels have blamed for blocking access to Thackeray, told reporters.

The rebels rejected the offer, saying the alliance had to end first before any discussion could begin about them coming back. Shinde has previously called the alliance “unnatural” and said it needed to end for the Sena to survive. Meanwhile, MVA partners Congress and Nationalist Congress Party threw their weight behind the embattled Thackeray, who sought to corral public opinion by moving late Wednesday night from the CM’s residence to his family home Matoshree, the seat of Sena power and the residence of party founder Balasaheb Thackeray.

“The fate of the MVA government will be decided in the assembly,” NCP chief Sharad Pawar said.

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