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'No hindrance from our side to Shiv Sena rebels if they tie up with BJP', says Sanjay Raut as saffron party claims support of 170 MLAs


Eknath_Shinde_PTI_1_Final
Chennai:

MUMBAI: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said the rebels have chosen their way and there would be no hindrance from the party in the path of the dissidents to associate with the BJP, and the Sena will play the role of constructive opposition to the new government.

Talking to reporters a day after Sena president Uddhav Thackeray resigned as the state chief minister following a rebellion that rocked his government, Raut also said the dissident leaders will "regret" their decision to part ways with the Shiv Sena.

Raut said he will also go to the Enforcement Directorate's office on Friday in response to the summons issued to him by the agency, and clear his position.

"You (rebel leaders) will regret this. Eknath Shinde (the leader of the rebel MLAs) was a staunch Shiv Sainik and worked for the party for many years. Be it (MLAs) Gulabrao Patil, Sandipan Bhumre and many (who are in the Shinde camp) who worked for the party and struggled for it, they have chosen their path."

"We will not create any impediment in their path. They can have their association (with the BJP). We will do our work. Now our paths are different. We will work as a constructive opposition," he said.

Without taking BJP's name, Raut said he is well aware of those responsible for pressuring the Sena legislators, which led to the rebellion in the party.

He said everyone had a sense of trust in the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, especially people of faiths.

Be it NCP chief Sharad Pawar or Congress president Sonia Gandhi, everybody trusted Uddhav Thackeray, he said.

"But efforts were on to bring down the government from day one and we were aware of this, the way they (the BJP) brought different kinds of pressure through different means, like central agencies," Raut said.

The Sena rebels have blamed Raut for his visceral statements for widening the gap between them and the leadership.

Responding to this, Raut said, "If I am responsible for making Shiv Sainik a minister then I own it."

He said the formation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) was a "fight for self-respect" and fulfilment of late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's dream to make a Shiv Sainik a chief minister.

Will the rebel MLAs make Shiv Sainik the chief minister, Raut asked.

The rebels have cited association with the Congress and NCP being the main reason for rebelling against the party.

Raut said many of the rebel MLAs who are giving this pretext were earlier with the NCP.

Many of these MLAs joined the Shiv Sena to become ministers, he said.

Raut asserted that his party will work with new vigour.

"The Shiv Sena is not born for power, but power is born for the Shiv Sena," he said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP leader Girish Mahajan on Thursday claimed that his party has the support of 170 MLAs, way above the 145 majority mark in the 288-member House that is necessary to form a government in the state.

The BJP is set to return to power in the state with the support of rebel Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tendered his resignation on Wednesday night, leading to the collapse of the 31-month-long three-party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

Speaking to reporters here, former minister Mahajan said, "We have a support of 170 MLAs. We can comfortably face a floor test whenever we are asked to prove majority."

The BJP's strength in the House is 106, and it claims to have the support of at least 13 legislators.

Meanwhile, sources said that Eknath Shinde will reach Mumbai from Goa this afternoon to hold talks about government formation with BJP leaders.

Shinde had landed in Goa from Guwahati on Wednesday night with a group of 50 MLAs, of whom 39 are Sena dissidents, while others are independent legislators and those from small parties.

It is not yet clear if the Shinde-led group will merge with any party.

Shinde Wednesday night reiterated that they are Shiv Sainiks and will remain in Shiv Sena.