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Why no intel on Sena MLAs’ flight, Sharad Pawar asks Minister

Mumbai: The sudden flight by a group of Shiv Sena rebels led by Eknath Shinde has brought the Maharashtra government to the verge of collapse.

Questions have been raised on whether the movement of a group of 22 MLAs went unnoticed by Mumbai Police, which reports to the Maharashtra government, specifically Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil of the NCP.

The MLAs took a flight late on Monday night to Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat. Was the minister unaware of the movement of the MLAs, whose security details are provided by the police?

NCP leader Sharad Pawar held a meeting with Dilip Walse-Patil and Jayant Patil besides other party leaders Wednesday morning, as the Shiv Sena’s coalition partners processed the two-year-old coalition government’s level five crisis.

Mr Pawar, say sources, showed his displeasure and questioned why there was no intelligence on Mr Shinde flying out with MLAs in the dead of night.

Mr Pawar on Tuesday called the revolt by Mr Shinde an internal crisis of the Shiv Sena and said he was confident that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would resolve it.

The chances of that have faded since Tuesday. Shortly after Uddhav Thackeray dialed Mr Shinde and, in a 10-minute chat, tried to coax him back to the fold, the rebel MLAs flew out of Gujarat to Assam, another BJP-ruled state.

Soon after landing in Guwahati, Mr Shinde, claimed he had 46 MLAs on his side – 45 from the Sena and one independent.

To displace Uddhav Thackeray and win a vote of confidence – should it come to that – the BJP needs 37 MLAs apart from its own 106. Mr Shinde claims he has enough MLAs to enable the coup.