BJP’s Narwekar gets 164 votes in 287-strong House; 16 MLAs absent
DAYS AFTER taking over the Maharashtra government, the BJP-Shinde group alliance on Sunday passed its first test in the State Assembly with BJP MLA Rahul Narwekar winning the Speaker’s election. While Narwekar polled 164 votes, the rival candidate Rajan Salvi of Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena got 107.
Later, with the confidence motion scheduled on Monday, the newly elected Speaker granted relief to the Shinde camp by rejecting the appointment of MLA Ajay Choudhary as the Shiv Sena legislature group leader. He also revoked the appointment of MLA Sunil Prabhu as the Shiv Sena Chief Whip. Choudhary and Prabhu are from the Thackeray camp.
Besides, the Speaker upheld the appointment in 2019 of Eknath Shinde as the Sena legislature group leader.
The latest development was communicated in a letter from the Assembly Secretariat to Shinde and Bharat Gogawale, the Chief Whip appointed by the majority rebel faction of 39 MLAs out of a total of 55 Sena MLAs in the House.
On June 21, following the split in the Sena, the Thackeray group had replaced Shinde with Choudhary as the legislature group leader. On June 22, Shinde had sent a letter to Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, signed by 35 rebel Sena MLAs, replacing Prabhu with Gogawale as Chief Whip.
Sunday’s letter from the Secretariat, addressed to Shinde and Gogawale, was in response to the communication from the rebels.
Later, Chaudhary said: “Let them not recognise us. We will approach a larger forum for justice, the courts, and will get justice.”
A top BJP leader said: “On Monday, the Eknath Shinde faction, which is recognised as the Shiv Sena legislature party, will issue a whip to vote in favour of the government when it faces the trust vote. When they (MLAs of the Thackeray group) disobey, they will face disqualification.”
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