Shiv Sena splits in the Lok Sabha as 12 MPs join rebel camp

Mumbai South-Central MP Rahul Shewale named rebel group’s leader in the Lok Sabha

Updated - July 20, 2022 01:06 pm IST

Published - July 19, 2022 05:44 pm IST - Pune

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. File

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Following the revolt of Shiv Sena MLAs led by Eknath Shinde in Maharashtra last month, the party’s Lok Sabha group was split wide open on Tuesday after 12 of the party’s 19 Lok Sabha MPs moved over to the rebel Shinde camp, dealing another body blow to Uddhav Thackeray’s dwindling Sena faction.

The development, long on the cards since the rebellion of 40 Sena MLAs in the State, elicited scant surprise.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday named rebel Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale as the leader of the party in the Lower House of Parliament. The decision was notified late in the night through a circular issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.

Earlier, the Uddhav camp loyalist and Lok Sabha MP Arvind Sawant had said that the rebel camp had no authority to announce a new group leader in the Lower House of Parliament.

Yavatmal-Washim MP Bhavana Gawali, who was recently removed by the Uddhav faction as chief whip, was reinstated in the same capacity by Mr. Shinde’s rebel camp.

“All 12 MPs today submitted a letter to the Speaker [Om Birla] regarding formation of a group of Shiv Sena MPs in the Lok Sabha. I congratulate them on their decision. Earlier, 50 MLAs had taken the decision, which ought to have been taken two-and-a-half years ago, in the State to move ahead with Bal Thackeray and Anand Dighe’s ideals and the creation of a natural Shiv Sena-BJP alliance. Today, the MPs have done the same,” Mr. Shinde said.

He refuted the suggestions of Uddhav loyalist and Sena MP Sanjay Raut that the 12 MPs had joined the rebel camp out of any pressure from the BJP-led Centre by way of unleashing Central agencies on the Sena lawmakers.

“Sanjay Raut’s matinee show has stopped. He is not worth taking notice anymore,” Mr. Shinde quipped.

Also read: Eknath Shinde appoints new Sena national executive

According to sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat, the Speaker examined letters from both the Shinde-led rebel faction as well as the Uddhav Thackeray camp before recognising Mr. Shewale as the party’s new group leader, as requested by the rebels.

Remarking that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had fully backed the new Sena [Shinde camp]-BJP government in the State, the Chief Minister said that throughout the State, Shiv Sainiks at all levels, along with Maharashtra’s public, had wholeheartedly backed the rebels’ decision to form a natural alliance with the BJP.

Besides Mr. Shewale and Ms. Gawali, those who have joined the rebel camp include Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde, son of Mr. Eknath Shinde; Kolhapur MP Sanjay Mandlik; Hatkanangale MP Dhairyasheel Mane; Ramtek MP Krupal Tumane; Maval MP Shrirang Barne; Nashik MP Hemant Godse; Hingoli MP Hemant Patil; Shirdi MP Sadashiv Lokhande; Buldhana MP Prataprao Jadhav; and Palghar MP Rajendra Gavit.

“All 12 MPs (of the new breakaway faction) had fought against the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) and the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha election and had won...We faced a number of problems with our erstwhile MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition) allies during the last two-and-a-half years. Hence, we have taken this decision given that, all our lives, we have fought against these two parties,” Mr. Shewale said.

However, he stressed that the MPs had not formed any new group in the Lok Sabha while stating that the party would remain as a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

“The Shiv Sena had never given any letter exiting the NDA [when Sena MP Arvind Sawant had resigned as Minister at the Centre] or joining the United Progressive Alliance [following its alliance with the Congress and NCP in the State]…We have merely changed our group leader in the Lok Sabha. We continue to remain within the NDA as a constituent party and we will support the NDA’s candidate [in the upcoming Vice Presidential poll],” Mr. Shewale said.

He further accused the party leadership [Uddhav Thackeray] of not addressing the problems faced by the MPs, while remarking that MPs had complained about their present group leader Vinayak Raut, but that no action had been taken against Mr. Raut.

Mr. Shewale further said that none of the resolutions in the common minimum programme could be implemented owing to the conflicting positions taken by the Sharad Pawar-led NCP.

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