They said the crisis for the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi was not orchestrated by the BJP and that the Shiv Sena MLAs revolted on their own under the leadership of Eknath Shinde. The BJP only facilitated the stay of the rebels in Surat, said people close to the party.
BJP members said there were 23 MLAs, including Shinde, at the hotel in Surat on Tuesday evening. In the afternoon, there were 19 MLAs and four MLAs joined later. All the MLAs were from the Shiv Sena. There was no such plan to move these MLAs to any other place, like Ahmedabad, said people in the know. They said no senior BJP leader, including Devendra Fadnavis, would pay a visit to these MLAs.
The BJP leadership is of the view that the party first needs numbers to form the government, said the people, adding that the party does not have the required numbers yet. Besides, party leaders realise that the rebels would need to contest election after joining the BJP and forming the government and wonder whether that would be easy or difficult considering the Shiv Sena, NCP and INC are together, said a person privy to the thinking in the BJP camp. All would depend on the decision taken by Shinde and whether he can get more MLAs from the Shiv Sena, said the person.
BJP general secretary in-charge of Maharashtra, CT Ravi, was in Karnataka on Tuesday and was expected to reach Delhi on Wednesday morning. Ravi is coming to Delhi to attend the meeting of BJP presidential election management committee, of which he is the co-convener. Later in the day he will meet the party leaders and discuss the ongoing Maharashtra situation. He could also go to Mumbai after the meeting, said party members.
They said the party was in touch with some NCP leaders too but that option had been put on hold for the moment.