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After Assembly, Shiv Sena legislative party in Lok Sabha to split too

After a majority of Shiv Sena MLAs defected to form a government with the BJP in Maharashtra, the parliamentary group of the party is also going to see a rebellion, with 14 out of the 19 of its Lok Sabha MPs likely to ask Speaker Om Birla for recognition as a separate group.

Top sources in the BJP-Eknath Shinde led Shiv Sena coalition told The Hindu that the move may happen as early as July 13 or 14, with one of the official reasons being given as wanting to extend support to National Democratic Alliance’s nominee for the presidential polls Droupadi Murmu.

“Apart from Arvind Sawant, Vinayak Raut, Gajanan Kritikar and Sanjay Mandlike, all other Shiv Sena Lok Sabha MPs want to cede from the Uddhav Thackeray-led faction and declare allegiance to the Eknath Shinde faction. And while there is no whip in place for presidential polls, wanting to support Ms. Murmu’s candidature will be one of the reasons cited for the split,” said a source.

“This basically is a continuation of the overall split that is happening in the Shiv Sena. The split in the legislative party in the Lok Sabha will be echoed down the ranks as well. Already, the Thane and Navi Mumbai corporators have declared allegiance in favour of Eknath Shinde, we are expecting Pune and later Mumbai as well to follow the same path,” said the source. Interestingly, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s son Shrikant Shinde is a Lok Sabha MP from Kalyan, elected on a Shiv Sena ticket.

All this, hopes the BJP-Shinde Shiv Sena alliance, will be helpful in wresting the “real Shiv Sena” tag from the Thackeray family when the matter comes up before the Election Commission of India, where control over the party and the symbol is determined not just by legislative control but also over the rank and file and office-bearers down the line.

Earlier, fearing a rebellion in the Lok Sabha, Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut had written to Speaker Om Birla informing him that the party has removed Bhavana Gawali as its chief whip and has replaced her with Rajan Vichare, its MP from Thane, the stronghold of Mr. Shinde.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the Maharashtra Cabinet will only be done after the hearing on the petition filed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction in the Supreme Court challenging Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s decision to invite Mr. Shinde to form the government. The matter has been posted for hearing on July 11.

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