Uddhav replaces Lok Sabha chief whip as Shinde camp hints at MPs jumping ship
Uddhav Thackeray removed Bhavana Gawali, who had suggest that the Sena renew its decades-old ties with the BJP in the wake of the rebellion led by Eknath Shinde, as the chief whip.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena replaced Bhavana Gawali as its chief whip in the Lok Sabha and nominated Rajan Vichare in her place.
The information was shared by the Sena's Rajya Sabha MP and spokesperson Sanjay Raut. "It is to inform you that Shiv Sena Parliamentary Party has nominated Rajan Vichare, MP (LS) as the chief whip in Lok Sabha in place of Bhavana Gawali, MP (LS), with immediate effect," Raut wrote to parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi. Raut is the Leader of the Shiv Sena Parliamentary Party.
Gawali, who represents the Yavatmal-Washim LS constituency in eastern Maharashtra, was one of the Sena MPs to suggest that the Sena renew its decades-old ties with the BJP in the wake of the rebellion led by Eknath Shinde that ultimately led to the fall of Thackeray's coalition government with the Congress and NCP.
Vichare represents Thane in the Lok Sabha. Shinde is also from Thane. The Shiv Sena has 18 MPs in the Lok Sabha and three in the Rajya Sabha.
Earlier in the day, rebel Shiv Sena MLA Gulabrao Patil had said of the 18 Sena MPs would soon join the Shinde-led faction. Patil also said that the faction led by Shinde is the real claimant of the party's 'bow and arrow' poll symbol, a claim contested by the Thackeray-headed camp.
"We are the real claimant of the party's bow and arrow symbol," he said. Lok Sabha MP from Sindhudurg Vinayak Raut, a Thackeray loyalist, challenged the rebels to declare that they have quit the Shiv Sena and dared the BJP to call mid-term elections in the state.
A day ago, Shiv Sena Lok Sabha member Rahul Shewale urged Uddhav Thackeray to ask party MPs to support NDA's Presidential nominee Draupadi Murmu, considering her tribal roots and contribution to the social sector.
Whips played a crucial role in the recent political turmoil in the western state where Shinde took oath as the new chief minister after ensuring an easy win in the floor test following Thackeray's resignation from the top post.
The factions led by Shinde and Thackeray had issued whips for voting during the election of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and the trust vote of the Shinde-led government, both of which went in favour of the former. The validity of the whips is being contested by each other in the court.
(With agency inputs)