Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has written a letter to the state Legislative Council’s deputy chairperson seeking that Viplove Bajoria be made the Shiv Sena’s chief whip in the Upper House, a move apparently aimed at further cornering the faction led by former CM Uddhav Thackeray. Currently, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MLC Anil Parab is the party’s chief whip in the House.
Shinde has given the letter to state Legislative Council’s deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe, who is part of the Thackeray camp.
The Budget session of the Maharashtra legislature began on Monday. Bharat Gogawale, the Shiv Sena’s chief whip in the state Assembly, on Sunday evening said, “We have issued a whip to all MLAs of the Shiv Sena asking them to remain present full-time during the Budget session. If any legislator does not follow it, he/she will face action.” The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Shinde bloc in the state currently does not have a majority in the Upper House.
Amid the high-decibel political and legal battle between rival Shiv Sena groups, Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar last week said he has not got representation from any group claiming to be a separate party in the Lower House.
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The Speaker told PTI that there is only one Shiv Sena with 55 MLAs which is led by Shinde and legislator Bharat Gogawale has been recognised as its chief whip. Narvekar has approved the appointment of Shinde as the legislature party leader Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Gogawale said, “We have given a letter asking the Legislative Council’s deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe to appoint Viplove Bajoria as the Shiv Sena’s chief whip in the House. Gorhe will have to accept it. Shinde is the Shiv Sena leader and accepting his letter to change the chief whip is the precedence.”
The Election Commission has already allotted the name Shiv Sena and its symbol (bow and arrow) will remain with Chief Minister Shinde, he said. Notably, during a hearing in the Supreme Court last week over the Uddhav Thackeray faction’s plea challenging the decision of the Election Commission recognising the Shinde-led bloc as the real Shiv Sena, senior advocate N K Kaul, appearing for the Shinde bloc, assured the SC bench it will not take steps like issuing whip or initiation of disqualification proceedings against lawmakers – MLAs, MLCs and MPs – of the Thackeray faction for the time being.
The assurance came after senior advocate A M Singhvi, also appearing for Thackeray, had raised apprehension, saying “Tomorrow, if they issue a whip or a letter and if we do not do it then we will be disqualified. Now they are the party. I have no protection. Your lordships should give us the status quo at least.” This had led the SC bench to ask: “If we take this (petition for hearing) after two weeks, are you in the process of issuing a whip or disqualifying them.” “No, no,” responded Kaul. When asked about it, Gogawale said, “We have been asked not to take any action against the Thackeray camp. We can still issue a whip and ask all the members to remain present full-time during the session.”