Not willing to take risks from potential “political poachers”, the Shiv Sena has shifted all its 56 legislators to a sea-facing hotel in suburban Bandra till the political crisis in the state is resolved, party sources said here on Thursday.
The legislators, who are from Mumbai and different parts of Maharashtra, are expected to be at the Hotel Rangsharda near the Bandstand in Bandra West over the next two-three days.
Contrary to speculation in some quarters, the legislators are not being ensconced in a five-star hotel, but a modest and comfortable hotel at a convenient location.
Belying its image of the glamour and Bollywood hub of Mumbai, the locality where the hotel is situated is relatively quiet, unglamourous and middle-class on the southern corner of Bandra suburb.
However, barely a couple of kms to the southwest is another bay whose shores are lined with the homes of Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Rekha and a host of other celebrities in different fields.
At Rangsharda, basic room rents start at an affordable Rs 3,500/night, the rooms are not lavish but cosy and comfortable with options of single-double bed occupancy, besides a choice of cuisine to suit all palates, said a political leader who hops in there regularly on his trips from Pune.
Offering a view of the Mahim bay and the Rajiv Gandhi Bandra Worli Sea Link, the magnificent skyline of south-west Mumbai, the hotel also has an auditorium on the ground floor that hosts all kinds of social-cultural-political events.
The sources said that the auditorium itself is suited for any quick, short-notice meeting that the party leadership may be required to address with all legislators under a single roof.
Adjacent to the hotel is an educational complex and the Lilavati Hospital, which is known for its celeb patients.
It is the same hospital where the late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was treated and on a couple of occasions, even Sena founder the late Bal Thackeray and present party President Uddhav Thackeray were admitted there.
Strategically located for the current political crisis, the hotel is barely a couple of kms from the Thackeray residence in Bandra East, around 4 km from the Shiv Sena Bhavan, 16 km from Raj Bhavan and 19 km from the Vidhan Bhavan.
Many legislators’ mobile phones were switched off since the crucial meeting addressed by Uddhav Thackeray this afternoon and the legislators were packed off to the hotel in waiting mini-buses.
Asked about the move, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that many of the legislators have come from far-off places in the state and have not yet secured accommodation in the MLAs’ hotels in south Mumbai.
“Until then, it is our duty and responsibility to take care of their lodging boarding, safety and ensure their availability whenever required. None of our legislators are susceptible to poaching,” Raut asserted.
Although there was no visible security around the hotel this evening, it is reliably learnt that groups of Shiv Sainiks and activists of the Congress-NCP are keeping a discreet 24×7 tabs on the movements, activities and visitors of their respective legislators in a bid to prevent anybody from crossing over to the BJP.
Meanwhile, adopting a firm stance against possible deserters, the Sena, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party have unofficially reached an understanding that in case any legislator from their respective parties defects, he/she would be defeated by them unitedly in the next elections.