The ongoing high decibel political and legal battle between rival Shiv Sena groups is all set to resonate loudly in the Maharashtra legislature when it begins its Budget session on February 27.
The Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, buoyed by an Election Commission (EC) ruling in its favour, and the Uddhav Thackeray faction are locked in a bitter feud to lay claim over the 56-year-old party and legacy of its founder Bal Thackeray.
Going by the legislative majority, the EC last week allotted the Shiv Sena name and the 'bow and arrow' poll symbol to the Shinde group while recognising the split in the party, which was rocked by a rebellion in June last year.
Moving swiftly after the EC ruling, the Shinde camp petitioned Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar and took control of the Shiv Sena legislature party office in the Vidhan Bhavan complex in south Mumbai. Similarly, the Shinde camp feels the whip it issues will be binding on legislators still loyal to Thackeray.
Amid the Shiv Sena row, Narvekar said on Thursday that he has not got representation from any group claiming to be a separate party in the Lower House.
The Speaker told PTI that there is only one Shiv Sena with 55 MLAs which is led by Shinde and legislator Bharat Gogawale has been recognised as its chief whip.
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Narvekar has approved the appointment of Shinde as the legislature party leader.
However, senior advocate and former Maharashtra Advocate General Shrihari Aney feels that since the EC has recognised the split in the Shiv Sena, the Shinde camp's whip will not be applicable to pro-Thackeray MLAs.
The Thackeray faction will have to seek recognition as a separate group in the legislature, he said.
The budget session will commence with newly-appointed Governor Ramesh Bais making his first address to the joint sitting of the state legislature.
Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also holds the finance and planning portfolio, will present the first Budget of the Shinde-led government in the Assembly on March 9.
The session will end on March 25.
Shinde, who took oath as CM on June 30, 2022, is yet to expand his Council of Ministers, which at present has 18 members, all of Cabinet rank. Nine ministers each of the Shinde-led Shiv Sena and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are part of the Cabinet.
Going by the state Assembly strength of 288, Maharashtra can have a maximum of 42 ministers.
Apart from the Shinde-Thackeray feud, results of Kasba Peth and Chinchwad Assembly bypolls in Pune district, necessitated by the death of sitting MLAs, will also find an echo in the legislature. Voting in the two Assembly seats, won by the BJP in 2019, will be held on February 26 and results will be announced on March 2.
The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), consisting of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Congress and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), will also seek to corner the Shinde-BJP government over issues of public interest during the nearly one-month long session which is set to be stormy.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)