In a major setback to the Uddhav Thackeray faction a day before the crucial trust vote of the Eknath Shinde-BJP government, the newly-appointed speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly on Sunday night removed Shiv Sena Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Ajay Chaudhary as the legislative party leader.
A letter issued by the office of Speaker Rahul Narvekar reinstates Eknath Shinde as the Shiv Sena’s legislative party leader and also recognises the appointment of Bharat Gogawale from the Eknath Shinde camp as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena, removing Sunil Prabhu, who belongs to the Uddhav Thackeray faction.
The letter addressed to Shiv Sena rebel MLA and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde stated that the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan administration had received a letter from his faction on June 22 objecting to Eknath Shinde’s removal as the group leader of the Shiv Sena Legislative Party by the party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The letter issued by the office of Speaker Rahul Narvekar on Sunday night stated that after discussing the legalities of the matter, the Speaker rejects the appointment of Shiv Sena MLA Ajay Chaudhary as the group leader of the legislative unit of the party.
The letter reinstates Eknath Shinde as the leader of the House of Shiv Sena and also recognises the appointment of Bharat Gogawale as the chief whip of the party, replacing Sunil Prabhu.
The development comes as a major blow to the Uddhav Thackeray faction comprising 16 MLAs who will be bound by the whip to be issued by Bharat Gogawale for Monday’s trust vote.
If these 16 MLAs refuse to follow the whip, they may face disqualification.