GUWAHATI, June 26 (PTI): Assam ministers Ashok Singhal and Pijush Hazarika on Sunday visited the luxury hotel in Guwahati, where dissident Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde is camping with other MLAs from Maharashtra, and held a series of discussions with them, sources said.
This is the third time in two days that Singhal, the Assam Housing and Urban Affairs minister, has met the dissidents. On Saturday, he went to the hotel twice and held discussions with Shinde and the other rebel MLAs.
Meanwhile, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while returning from the airport after assessing the flood situation in Silchar, stopped for a few minutes at Gotanagar area on the NH-37, where the Radisson Blu hotel is situated.
His convoy stopped on the opposite side of the Radisson Blu and he greeted the journalists, who had been reporting from outside the closed gates of the hotel. He then left the place.
A source told PTI that Hazarika, the Parliament Affairs minister of Assam, went to the hotel on Sunday morning and was there for about two hours.
“Singhal reached the hotel around 11 am. Hazarika had left before Singhal went,” he added.
Some security personnel of Hazarika waited outside when he was holding the meeting with the Shinde camp.
Singhal’s SUV along with his security was seen entering the hotel after Hazarika’s convoy left the place.
It is, however, not immediately known what Singhal and Hazarika discussed with the rebel Shiv Sena legislators and Independent MLAs from the western state.
Another source close to the development said that Singhal had gone to the hotel on Saturday afternoon as well as in the night and held discussions.
When contacted, Singhal confirmed to PTI that he went to the hotel on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, but declined to share details. He did not mention the Saturday night’s visit.
A close associate of the minister said, “He went there to meet an MLA whom he knew.”
Hazarika remained unavailable for comments.
Significantly, these meetings took place hours after 16 dissident Shiv Sena MLAs were sent disqualification notices.
The BJP, which once had an alliance with the Shiv Sena, has so far brushed its hands off from the present political turmoil in Maharashtra.
Despite sending a party MP and an MLA to receive the Maharashtra legislators at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport in Guwahati on June 22, chief minister Sarma claimed that they arrived here as guests on their own.
The Assam Police has taken over the security from the private guards of the hotel and is not allowing anyone to enter the premises.
The Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat on Saturday issued ‘summons’ to 16 of the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, including Shinde, seeking written replies by the evening of June 27 to the complaints seeking their disqualification.
After receiving the summons, the Shiv Sena MLAs have been huddling inside the hotel since Sunday morning, sources said.
“They are discussing various options to respond to the notices. The current political situation is being deliberated in the meeting,” another source said.
In what seems to be an apparent bid to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, dissident legislators of Shiv Sena, which heads the ruling coalition, are camping in Guwahati, around 2,700 km away.