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Will follow SC's directions: Eknath Shinde at Guwahati airport

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Guwahati, Jun 29: Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde on Wednesday said that he and the other rebel MLAs will abide by the Supreme Court order on the plea by his party challenging the floor test ordered by the Maharashtra governor.

Will follow SCs directions: Eknath Shinde at Guwahati airport

Speaking to reporters at the Guwahati airport, Shinde said the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs will work for the development of Maharashtra and the people of the state.

"The Supreme Court decision (on the case) will come in a while from now. We will do as per the top court order," he said. "We will reach Mumbai on Thursday and participate in the floor test. We will decide our future strategy after that," he said when asked if the dissidents will support a BJP-led government. The Supreme Court was hearing Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu's plea against the Maharashtra governor's direction to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take a floor test in the assembly on Thursday. Shinde also vehemently denied that they are "rebels", asserting they are the "real Shiv Sainiks".

"We are Balasaheb Thackeray's Shiv Sainiks. We will take forward the Hindutva ideology. We will work for the development of Maharashtra and people of the state," he added. The Maharashtra MLAs, led by Shinde, checked out of the hotel in Guwahati around 5 pm to reach the airport. After delaying their departure by around two hours, the dissident MLAs decided to leave for Goa, from where they will go to Mumbai, sources said.

The MLAs, their associates and some family members left the Radisson Blu hotel in four air-conditioned luxury buses of the Assam State Transport Corporation. The buses reached the airport, around 15 km away, under a heavy security cover. Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Ashok Singhal, BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das, and MLAs Diganta Kalita and Sushanta Borgohain accompanied the Maharashtra MLAs to the airport.

In the 288-member Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, the mid-way mark is 144. However, the current strength is 287 following the demise of one Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Latke of Mumbai.

Apart from the MVA and the BJP, there is a significant 29-strong group of MLAs who are independents or from smaller parties who have become important for both the ruling and opposition side.

The MVA strength is: Shiv Sena (55), NCP (53) and Congress (44), and with the support of smaller parties and independents, the ruling alliance commands around 169 legislators.

The BJP has 106, plus the support of smaller parties and independents giving a strength of around 114.

The political crisis in Maharashtra started when Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde, who has claimed the support of more than three dozen party MLAs, raised a banner of revolt against the Shiv Sena leadership. PTI

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