Amid the ongoing uncertainty in Maharashtra over government formation, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and son Aaditya Thackeray met district party heads in a Mumbai hotel on Friday. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, senior leader Eknath Shinde said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss and plan a strategy to help farmers across Maharashtra hit due to unseasonal rains in recent weeks. He said Shiv Sena leaders and party workers have been instructed by Uddhav to start a dedicated 'Help Centres' in their areas to assist farmers to settle their compensation claims and provide necessary relief.
"In today's meeting, Uddhav Thackeray had summoned all the district party heads because the farmers in the state are in distress. 60 to 70 lakh hectares of farmland is damaged and 100 per cent crops have failed. In such a condition, it is important to help farmers. And so, the local leaders of Shiv Sena along with elected representatives and party workers are being instructed by Uddhav saheb to set up dedicated 'Shiv Sena Help Centres' in their areas. They will help farmers in getting the compensation, documentation and serving bank notices," said Eknath Shinde.
On the question of government formation, Shinde reiterated that the elected MLAs have given full authority to party chief Uddhav to take the appropriate call. "I will again say this: For us, the decision of the party chief is final. So all the elected leaders have given full authority to Uddhav saheb to take the decision. And so in he will take the appropriate decision at the appropriate time."
When asked by reporters why the newly elected MLAs were lodged at Bandra's Rangsharda hotel, Shinde replied, "There's work going on at the MLA hostel. Therefore, the MLAs from outside Mumbai are being lodged at the Rangsharda hotel. Based on the number of rooms available, if more arrangements are needed then we will do that." He added that no one can influence Shiv Sena MLAs as they have complete faith in their party and its chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Earlier on Thursday, Shiv Sena leader Abdul Sattar revealed that the party was planning to send its MLAs to a resort — Hotel Rangasharda, amid alleged poaching attempts. However, Sena's Sanjay Raut dismissed such reports. On the other hand, NCP chief Sharad Pawar has repeatedly ruled out a coalition with Shiv Sena saying, 'We have the mandate to sit in Opposition'. Meanwhile, BJP ally and RPI chief, Ramdas Athawale has said that BJP chief Amit Shah has no plans of interfering in the deadlock, leaving the state leaders to solve the tussle themselves.
Shiv Sena has reiterated that it will accept only the 50:50 formula, BJP has denied of ever having agreed to such a formula reportedly offering 13 cabinet portfolios to Sena while keeping 26 for its ministers. Apart from Sena's portfolio demand, the party has demanded a sharing of 2.5 years in the CM post too. As per sources, Sena has been eyeing to gain support of the NCP-Congress alliance. The BJP too has been gaining support from independent MLAs.