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Countdown begins for Maharashtra Floor Test: 1 more Sena MLA joins Shinde camp

On July 3, the BJP’s Rahul Narwekar was elected as Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly, providing a significant boost to the Eknath Shinde government. While he received 164 votes, MVA candidate Rajan Salvi received just 107 votes. Shinde was named Shiv Sena Legislative Party leader, while Bharat Gogawale was named Chief Whip, by the new Speaker. Today, the administration will ask for a vote of confidence.

Late Sunday night, newly-elected Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar ousted Shiv Sena parliamentary party leader Ajay Chaudhary and reinstalled Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The news comes before the Shinde-led government’s floor test on Monday, which is likely to pass because the numbers are in Shinde’s favour. Shinde has the backing of 50 MLAs, including 39 from Sena. He also enjoys the support of 106 BJP MLAs, putting him above the 145-member House majority mark.

Narvekar also acknowledged the nomination of Bharat Gogawale of the Shinde camp as the Sena’s top whip, displacing Sunil Prabhu of the Thackeray group. Narvekar said in a statement late Sunday night that the Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat received a letter on June 22 from the Shinde-led group protesting Uddhav’s dismissal as Shiv Sena legislature party group leader.

According to Narvekar’s letter, after studying the legalities of the case, the Speaker has rejected the nomination of Sena MLA Chaudhary as the group head of the party’s parliamentary unit. The development is a big defeat for the Thackeray group, which consists of 16 MLAs who would be bound by the whip imposed┬áby Gogawale for the trust vote. If these 16 MLAs refuse to follow the whip, they face disqualification.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said on June 21 that Shinde had been dismissed as the party’s group leader in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly. At the time, he told reporters that Shinde had been replaced by Choudhury. A day following Raut’s announcement, Shinde said that 34 Sena MLAs who supported him had voted a resolution reinstalling him as Shiv Sena parliamentary party leader. Sena rebels also nominated Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale as the party’s new chief whip, removing incumbent Sunil Prabhu from the position.

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