Mumbai: A section of Shiv Sena parliamentarians on Friday asked party chief Uddhav Thackeray to mend fences with Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde amid claims by BJP leaders that at least a dozen Lok Sabha members of the rebellion-hit party were in touch with them.
A central BJP minister claimed that the split in the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra will also have an impact in the Lok Sabha as at least a dozen Lok Sabha members of the party, out of the total 19, were ready to switch sides.
A meeting of Shiv Sena MPs, convened by Thackeray in Mumbai on Friday evening, saw suggestions being made even by a party veteran to patch up with the rebel group led by Shinde in the long-term interests of the party, Sena sources said.
Thackeray’s response to the suggestions was not immediately known.
The meeting was not attended by three lawmakers – Shrikant Shinde, the son of the new chief minister; Bhawana Gawli, who is under the scanner of Enforcement Directorate; and Rajan Vichare, the Lok Sabha member from Thane, the sources said.
Shiv Sena has 19 members in the Lok Sabha and three members in the Rajya Sabha.
Shinde’s son Shrikant, a two-term Lok Sabha member from Kalyan, has already joined ranks with his father, while five-term parliamentarian from Yavatmal Bhawana Gawli had written a letter to the then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray urging him to consider the grievances of the rebels with regard to Hindutva.
Rajan Vichare, the Lok Sabha member from Thane, was mentored by the late Anand Dighe like Shinde.
Gawli has been under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate over allegations of money laundering connected with a non-governmental organisation run by her.
Thirty-five-year-old Shrikant, who was with the rebel MLAs in Goa, was not available for comments.
A section of the Lok Sabha members was in a quandary as several MLAs in their constituencies had sided with Shinde and were apprehensive of financial support for development projects under the new dispensation.
“There has been no impact of the rebellion on the Shiv Sena parliamentary party,” Vinayak Raut, leader of the Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha, told PTI before the meeting with Thackeray.
Lok Sabha member from Osmanabad Omraje Nimbalkar too said he was firmly with Thackeray and would cast his vote in the July 18 presidential elections according to the directions of the Shiv Sena chief.
“The split is in the Shiv Sena legislature party, why do you want to drag the Parliamentary unit into this,” a Sena Lok Sabha member from Vidarbha region asked.
The Rajya Sabha members are Anil Desai, Sanjay Raut and Priyanka Chaturvedi, all considered close to the Thackerays.