On Friday, a day after making an implicit threat of street violence against rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, Sena Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut made yet another threat of street agitation and violence against the rebel faction.
“[The] Eknath Shinde faction that’s challenging us must realise that Shiv Sena workers are yet to come on the roads. Such battles are fought either through law or on the roads. If need be then our workers would come on the roads,” Raut told news agency F10 News.
On Thursday, Raut, responding to a particular query about whether or not Uddhav Thackeray will stay the chief minister, had stated, “Let all the MLAs come to the floor of the House. We will see then. These MLAs who have left… they will find it difficult to return and move around in Maharashtra.”
The Sena immediately walked back his statements, although that appears to have been a futile effort now.
Fellow Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Jethmalani asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to condemn Raut’s statement.
In his tweet about Raut’s statement, Jethmalani termed it “a sinister threat from a man who has become a law unto himself in the state of Maharashtra.”
He added that there was a need for it to be “strongly condemned by every right minded legislator in the country”, particularly by Uddhav Thackeray and NCP chief Shard Pawar.
Additionally, Raut on Friday admitted that the party’s numbers in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly have dwindled, but expressed confidence that the rebel MLAs will support the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) combine during the floor test, saying that “figures can change any time”.
He said the rebel MLAs will face the real test of their loyalty towards the party when they return to Mumbai.
Raut also attacked BJP leader Narayan Rane, without naming him, for “threatening” NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
Shinde is currently camping with 37 rebel MLAs of the Sena and nine independents in a Guwahati hotel.
Talking to reporters, Raut, who is Sena’s chief spokesperson, admitted that his party’s numbers in the Assembly have gone down due to the revolt.
“The rebel group claims to have the required figures and democracy runs on numbers. But figures can change anytime. When the rebels return, it will be a test of their loyalty towards Balasaheb Thackeray and the Shiv Sena,” he said.