The news finally broke on the late evening of June 21. The rebel MLAs of Shiv Sena will relocate to Guwahati from Surat. In the early morning of June 22nd, a chartered flight carrying 35 MLAs of Eknath Shinde group of Shiv Sena landed at the Guwahati airport. All eyes shifted to Guwahati, the new epicentre of Maharashtra’s political crisis.
With heavy security, all MLAs were brought to the Radisson Blu hotel on the outskirts of Guwahati city. Most of the districts of Assam were still under the flood water and the State Government was busy rescuing flood victims and rehabilitating them. But amid that crisis, Guwahati became the hub of a huge political drama which the country has ever witnessed. It lasted for the next several days.
Speaking to the media, Eknath Shinde, the Shiv Sena leader who started the rebellion against the Maharashtra Government from Guwahati, said, “We are not the defectors but the real Shiv Sena, who are fighting for the resurgence of Hindutva shown by Balasaheb Thakeray in Maharashtra.” The next seven days were just days of speculation for the media.
Giving his analysis to this political development, Partha Pratim Das, a senior reporter of a local news channel, said that it was a completely new experience for mediapersons. “A small video of the Shinde group was circulated by someone inside the hotel and that ran for the entire day. The rest of the day it was news based on speculation about the next move of the rebels. But it was thrilling, you never know when and how some very crucial updates came from someone inside the five star hotel.”
Eknath Shinde’s Hindutva appeal was a game changer. The lost ideology of Shiv Sena in the last two and a half years as a partner of MVA in Maharashtra with Congress and NCP was an obvious reason for Shiv Sainiks to join the rebel group. More and more rebel Shiv Sena MLAs started joining the Shinde group in Guwahati. The rebel strength was increasing day-by-day which was also escalating the worry of Udhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena. The mind game and bullying tactics started from Maharashtra. However, the Shinde group kept calm despite provocation from the other side. The media didn’t get any breaking news from the rebel group as they were expecting. Still Guwahati remains in the national headlines as the hub of the Maharashtra political turmoil.
Throughout his life, Bal Thakeray opposed the Congress party. However, his son and current Chief Minister Uddhav Thakeray was compelled to go against the core ideology of the Sena. The rebellion was not the anger of the day, it was a result of the last two and a half years of ideological clashes.
But not everybody was silent like the ruling BJP. Trinamool Congress and the State Congress found it as a publicity opportunity. Small groups of both the parties demonstrated against the rebel MLAs camping inside the five star hotel. Insiders of both the parties said a small protest was organised on the instructions of the party high command to show their strength.
Giving his interpretation of the rebellion, Pranjal Baruah, a political activist in Guwahati, said that opportunities for the MVA Government ended at the point when 38 of the rebel Sena MLAs joined the Shinde camp. They issued a video of the 42 MLAs and the signal was loud and clear. It was to invite the remaining rebels to join the camp for the cause of Hindutva. It resulted well and the Shinde camp returned with the strength of fifty. Barua claims it was a resurgence of Hindutva from the land of Veer Lachit Borphukan to the land of Shivaji Maharaj. On the deciding day of June 29th all rebel MLAs visited the Maa Kamakhya Temple led by Eknath Shinde. Interestingly, all the rebel MLAs were chanting Jai Shree Ram while entering the temple. The Shinde group left Guwahati in the evening, while MVA was fighting hard to turn down the floor test in Maharashtra Assembly. But the smiling faces of the rebel group said it all.