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Wednesday, Oct 05, 2022

Tale of 2 whips of 2 Sena factions, both accuse each other of disobeying them

While Shiv Sena MLAs' (Thackeray faction) group leader Ajay Choudhari had issued a whip on Saturday to all MLAs asking them to vote for their Assembly Speaker candidate Rajan Salvi, the Shinde faction's chief whip, Bharat Gogawale, had issued a whip to the MLAs to vote in favour of BJP's Rahul Narvekar.

Maharashtra Floor Test | Maharashtra Assembly SessionChief Minister Eknath Shinde with rebel Shiv Sena MLAs at Vidhan Bhavan on Sunday. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

To stake claim on the Shiv Sena, two factions of the party — one led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the other by party president Uddhav Thackeray — who had issued separate whips for the Speaker’s election, went on to accuse each other of not obeying their respective whips on Sunday.

While Shiv Sena MLAs’ (Thackeray faction) group leader Ajay Choudhari had issued a whip on Saturday to all MLAs asking them to vote for their Assembly Speaker candidate Rajan Salvi, the Shinde faction’s chief whip, Bharat Gogawale, had issued a whip to the MLAs to vote in favour of BJP’s Rahul Narvekar.

Late Sunday, Narvekar went on to reject the appointment of Choudhari as the Shiv Sena MLA group leader in the House. He also removed MLA Sunil Prabhu of the Thackeray camp as the chief whip of Sena.

Earlier in the day, after the conclusion of the Speaker’s election in the House on Sunday, Choudhari immediately submitted a letter to the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Narhari Zirwal, claiming that 39 rebel Sena MLAs from the Shinde faction have disobeyed the party whip and voted in favour of Narvekar.

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Later, the Thackeray faction also submitted a fresh petition to Narvekar, seeking the disqualification of the 39 MLAs. “We have submitted a fresh petition seeking action against 39 MLAs,” Sena MP Arvind Sawant said.

Countering the same, the rebel group’s chief whip, Gogawale, submitted a letter to Narvekar, claiming that the 16 Sena MLAs from the Thackeray faction have disobeyed the whip issued by the Shinde faction, which has the majority numbers on its side.

While reading out the letter in the Assembly, Narvekar also mentioned the Shinde faction as the Shiv Sena.

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With this, the stage is set for a legal and constitutional battle between the two factions in the coming days.

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis with BJP MLAs at Vidhan Bhavan on Sunday. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

“Our whip was submitted to the deputy speaker, which was accepted. The MLAs (of Shinde faction) have disobeyed the whip and we have written to the Speaker,” Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray said after the Speaker’s election.

He added, “Before the election, we had to take the morality test (of rebel MLAs). They have failed the morality test. Not a single rebel had the courage to look into our eyes. They were just looking up and down. Today, they have no courage to look into our eyes, but when they visit their constituencies, how would they face the voters and the Shiv Sainiks? They were brought (to the Assembly) amid a lot of security. How many days will this go on?”

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While congratulating the new Speaker, Sena’s Sunil Prabhu said, “We are proud that we have got a young Speaker like you… While electing you today, 39 of our MLAs disobeyed our whip. History will never forget the way democracy has been undermined… it will always be remembered by the people of Maharashtra and the House.”

Replying to Prabhu, Shinde faction MLA Deepak Kesarkar said, “In the speeches, there has been a mention of whip but this is not the time to speak about it. We have also issued a whip and sent it to their office (Thackeray faction). So, we could also say that we have issued you a whip. We can also ask for your disqualification, but we won’t.”

BJP MLC Prasad Lad, however, said that the 16 MLAs who did not obey Gogawale’s whip could be disqualified. “The Speaker has clearly said that the Shinde-led group of Sena MLAs is the main Shiv Sena. The remaining 16 MLAs are undeclared and action can be taken against them at any moment.”

Meanwhile, before the session commenced, the Shinde-led faction sealed the legislative party office in the Vidhan Bhavan.

A paper was stuck with a plastic tape on the closed doors of the Sena legislative party office in the Vidhan Bhavan, with a message in Marathi written on it saying, “The office is closed as per instructions of the Shiv Sena legislative party.” Security has also been deployed outside the office.

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Later, Aaditya said, “It is not a big deal if the office is closed… we will go in whenever we wish as the key to the office is with us.”

First published on: 04-07-2022 at 12:59:53 am
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