Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena faction now has six additional members on its side, bringing its total to 38. However, they still need 37 lawmakers in order to divide the party without being disqualified under the anti-defection statute. Although there is still some wiggle room and the numbers are constantly shifting, it appears to be a done deal.
On Thursday, a number of individuals joined the rebel camp, including Deepak Kesarkar, Sada Sarvankar, Mangesh Kudalkar, and Sanjay Rathod. There are currently 16 MPs with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, with one maybe yet undecided.
The development happened at the same time that the Shiv Sena organised a news conference for two lawmakers, Kailas Patil and Nitin Deshmukh, who had accompanied the rebels to Surat but had since returned to express their support for Thackeray.
Sanjay Raut, the leader of the Shiv Sena, claimed that the lawmakers were threatened and transported from Surat to Guwahati. “The departing party is not the Shiv Sena. We observed the true Shiv Sena in Mumbai’s streets yesterday (Wednesday). Our party is effective. The organisation is not weak because several MLAs [members of the legislative assembly] have left. The Bharatiya Janata Party is in charge of between 17 and 18. Twenty MLAs are in contact with us.The organisation is not weak because several MLAs [members of the legislative assembly] have left. The Bharatiya Janata Party is in charge of between 17 and 18. Twenty MLAs are in contact with us.”
Deshmukh left for Mumbai again, supposedly bringing the total down to 29. However, by late Wednesday night, two Sena MPs and two independent lawmakers had joined the rebel group, increasing its size to 37, of which 31 were Sena members.