With the Uddhav Thackeray faction's plea, challenging last year's change of guard in Maharashtra, pending arbitration in the Supreme Court, the former Maharashtra chief minister on Sunday said elections can happen any time and they were "prepared".
Addressing a public meeting in Jalgaon on Sunday, Uddhav, who now heads the Shiv Sena (UBT), said, "Elections [in Maharashtra] can happen at any time and we are prepared. The matter is in Supreme Court and we are hopeful that the eventual verdict will be in our favour. After that, anything can happen any time."
The rift in undivided Shiv Sena led to present Chief Minister Eknath Shinde forming a breakaway front with over 40 loyalists.
After camping in a hotel in BJP-ruled Assam over days, the breakaway camp eventually joined hands with the BJP to bring about the demise of the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) -- an alliance of Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena -- government in Maharashtra.
The BJP and the rival Sena camp later formed the government and Eknath Shinde took oath as the chief minister, with former CM Devendra Fadnavis taking over as his deputy.
While the Election Commission (EC), earlier this year, decided to allot the official 'bow and arrow' symbol of the Shiv Sena to the Shinde camp along with the original party name, the plea by the Uddhav camp challenging the change of guard and re-allotment of the party symbol is still sub judice at the apex court.
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Uddhav claimed he did not allow injustice to any religion during his term in office.
"Today, the Maha Vikas Aghadi has completed three years of its existence. They (BJP and the Shinde camp) accuse me of abandoning Hindutva but the truth is that I did not allow injustice to any religion, bearing true allegiance to the oath of office that I took. All places of worship were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic, without any discrimination," he said.
Uddhav also dared the BJP's state unit to declare that it would contest the next Maharashtra elections under the leadership of Eknath Shinde.
Hitting out at the Shinde camp, Uddhav said, "You do not have any ideal of your own and neither do you have any leader. So, you steal others' ideals and the names of someone's father and mother to contest elections. I challenged the BJP earlier and will do so again. I dare them to declare that they will contest the coming elections under the leadership of Eknath Shinde," he said.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)