The Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra is facing its worst political crisis since it came to power in 2019, following the dissidence of a section of party leaders. The dissidents, led by MLA Eknath Shinde, are upset with the functioning of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, with which the Shiv Sena forms the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) front, which rules in Maharashtra.The row erupted on Monday, June 20, and since then Shinde and the other rebel leaders went incommunicado and travelled to Surat in Gujarat. While some Shiv Sena leaders say about 14-15 rebel MPs were camping out in Surat, others claimed the number was as high as 23 or 35. However, on Tuesday, June 21, the rebel leaders (there are 40 of them, according to Shinde) were taken to Guwahati in Assam via a chartered flight, where they were all driven to a luxury hotel amid tight security. The Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA, has 55 MLAs, followed by allies NCP (53) and the Congress (44) in the 288-Assembly where the current simple majority mark is 144.Here are the latest updates on the political crisis in Maharashtra> Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday, June 22, hinted that the Legislative Assembly may be dissolved amid the political crisis. The same day, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari tested positive for the coronavirus and has been hospitalised. Uddhav Thackeray has also tested positive for the virus.> A Shiv Sena minister, who is among the dissidents led by Eknath Shinde, on Wednesday said they do not have any complaints against the Sena leadership, but they have been upset with the style of function of the NCP and Congress. Speaking to a TV channel over phone, minister Sandipan Bhumare, who is among the dissidents, said, “We do not have any complaints against the Shiv Sena leadership. We have raised our complaints with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, that it was getting difficult to work with the NCP and Congress ministers. It was very difficult for us to get our proposals and work requests approved by their ministers.To a query, Bhumare said he was given a cabinet portfolio and was satisfied with it. “What else do I need in life? But, as a people’s representative, I need to address the grievances of my people. I could not do it properly because of these two alliance partners,” he added.> A senior BJP leader from Maharashtra on Tuesday evening said his party was exploring the possibility of government formation in the state, amid the crisis. Speaking to PTI on the condition of anonymity, the leader, who had served as a minister in the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government, added that “our priority is for the smooth transition of power”.Several BJP leaders, including Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis, held marathon meetings during the day to discuss Constitutional provisions, the arithmetic required to stake a claim to form a government as well as possible legal objections to such a kind of power transition, BJP sources said.Earlier in the day, Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil had said that the BJP would consider a proposal to form a government if it comes from Shinde. As far as the numbers are concerned, the BJP has 106 MLAs in the 288-member House, whose effective strength now stands at 285.> Meanwhile, hundreds of Shiv Sena workers gathered outside the party headquarters in Mumbai on Tuesday to express solidarity with party president Uddhav Thackeray battling the rebellion. As the number of Sena supporters swell, police deployed additional personnel at the Shiv Sena Bhavan in the Dadar area. Hundreds of party workers started assembling at Shiv Sena Bhavan as news of Shinde’s rebellion broke in the morning, most of them irate over the challenge thrown at Chief Minister and party president Thackeray. In Nashik city in north Maharashtra, Sena office-bearers and activists, including women, gathered at the party office in the Shalimar Chowk area in support of Thackeray and raised slogans.> NCP chief Sharad Pawar meanwhile, described the crisis in Maharashtra as an internal matter of the Shiv Sena and declared his party will support the decisions taken by the Thackeray-led outfit. Pawar had spoken to Thackeray on Tuesday morning, but told a press conference in New Delhi he would wait for the Shiv Sena to make an assessment of the situation before offering any comments. He noted several governments have survived despite massive cross-voting in elections like those for the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council.> On Wednesday, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said he has been holding discussions with Shinde and the talks are “positive”. Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Raut said Shinde has not put forth any conditions before the party, and that discussions are also underway with other Sena leaders who are with Shinde. Raut expressed confidence that Shinde and other rebel MLAs will be back into the party fold, and said their misunderstandings will be addressed. Raut said the Chief Minister will also talk to NCP chief Sharad Pawar, the chief architect of the state’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi.

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