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Mumbai: Maharashtra politics is in turmoil again, after the Supreme Court put the legal challenge against the newly installed Eknath Shinde led government on the backburner. Members of Parliament (MPs) and MLAs from former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction are in a dilemma over their very political survival.

With this development, more outgoing MPs and MLAs are on the cards since Sena legislators know that they were elected from their respective constituencies in the 2019 elections and the 2014 polls mainly due to the pan-India ‘Modi effect’. The prospect of not only losing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s backing in the 2024 polls, but also actually having to take on the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has unsettled many MPs and even remaining MLAs in Thackeray’s ‘Sena’. On Monday, the Sena MPs urged Thackeray to support BJP presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. Mahendra Jain, a senior BJP leader, says, “The legal imbroglio is unlikely to be unresolved for the next twoand-a-half years when state assembly elections are due again. Similar cases are pending a decision from the apex court in other states for over four years now. It is not unusual for legal wranglings to continue inordinately. The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena MPs and MLAs face the prospect of elections after serving half their term, which is a daunting prospect.”

BJP has always accommodated the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra since 2014, despite the two parties parting company a month before October elections, after an emphatic win in the April general elections in the same year, he added. Another BJP leader--who wished anonymity for fear of blowback-- said, “It was always this way. Relations between the parties were strained especially, in the run up to the 2019 elections (both general and state assembly). The Sena insisted on a pact for both formats simultaneously and demanded a 50:50 seat sharing formula. This happened despite the fact that BJP had 122 elected MLAs as compared to the Sena’s 63. We conceded to their demand, even handed over several crucial assembly seats to the Sena, where BJP had winning prospects. After elections the Sena still ditched us and formed the MVA government.”

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