Another setback to Uddhav Thackeray as 12 Shiv Sena MPs support CM Eknath Shinde
The Sena has 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha, including 18 from Maharashtra and one from the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and three in the Rajya Sabha
In yet another setback to Uddhav Thackeray, there appears to be a split even within parliamentarians within Shiv Sena after 12 of the 19 party MPs on Monday pledged support to the camp led by chief minister Eknath Shinde, which brought down the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra last month.
On Monday, the MPs, who were in New Delhi, virtually attended the national executive meeting of Shiv Sena organised by the Shinde camp in South Mumbai. A former MP, who shifted loyalties to Shinde, confirmed that 12 of these MPs were present at the meeting.
The Shinde camp is expected to write to Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla on Tuesday, appointing Rahul Shewale as the group leader of the party, replacing Thackeray loyalist Vinayak Raut; Bhavana Gawali will be retained as the chief whip.
Earlier, the party wrote to Birla requesting Thane MP Rajan Vichare to replace Gawali, who along with Shinde’s son and Kalyan MP Shrikant, was among the first to announce allegiance to Shinde.
The Shiv Sena MPs are expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Shinde during his visit to New Delhi on Tuesday and stress their allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Shinde has already walked away with 40 of the 55 Sena MLAs in the Maharashtra assembly and the dissension in the Parliament leaves party president Uddhav Thackeray with just around seven Lok Sabha MPs.
“It is our firm opinion that we must go with our natural allies (the BJP) and abide by the credo of late party supremo (Bal Thackeray),” said Hemant Godse, Sena MP from Nashik.
Thackeray was reportedly under pressure to support NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu in the presidential polls on Monday, instead of opposition candidate and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, due to pressure from his MPs to prevent more setback through cross-voting.
The Sena has 19 MPs in the Lok Sabha, including 18 from Maharashtra and one from the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and three in the Rajya Sabha.
The split in the parliamentary unit has left Thackeray with just six Lok Sabha MPs – Arvind Sawant (South Mumbai), Gajanan Kirtikar (North West Mumbai), Vinayak Raut (Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg), Hemant Patil (Hingoli), Sanjay Jadhav (Parbhani) and Omraje Nimbalkar (Osmanabad).
Kalaben Delkar from Dadra and Nagar Haveli, who is the first Sena MP to be elected from outside Maharashtra, is yet to clarify her allegiance. All three Rajya Sabha MPs (Sanjay Raut, Priyanka Chaturvedi and Anil Desai) are with Uddhav Thackeray.