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Maharashtra crisis worsens as 37 rebel MLAs back Shinde as leader in signed letter

Write to Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal

 Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde interacts with supporting MLAs at a hotel in Guwahati | PTI Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde interacts with supporting MLAs at a hotel in Guwahati | PTI

The political crisis in Maharashtra escalated further on Thursday night with 37 Shiv Sena MLAs in the Eknath Shinde camp sending a letter Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, naming Shinde as the legislature party leader.

Shinde sent a letter to the deputy speaker, signed by 36 Sena MLAs who are currently staying with him in Guwahati. This comes after Zirwal approved the decision to appoint Ajay Choudhary as the Shiv Sena's group leader in the House in place of rebel leader Shinde. The letter also informed that Sena MLA Bharat Gogawale has been appointed as chief whip of the legislature party in place of Sunil Prabhu.

According to reports, Uddhav Thackeray and team are filing appeals seeking disqualification of around 12 rebel MLAs including Shinde. Slamming the move, Shinde tweeted: "Who are you trying to threaten? We know your gimmicks and also understand the law very well. As per the 10th schedule of the Constitution, the whip is applicable for legislative works and not for any meeting. We demand action against you instead because you do not have sufficient number (of MLAs) but still formed a group of 12 MLAs. We do not pay any heed to such threats."

Shinde has reached the critical number of 37 required to split the Sena in the assembly without falling foul of the anti-defection law.

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, however, has expressed confidence that the coalition government will survive a floor test. He said the fate of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra will be decided on the floor of the legislative assembly, and the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition will prove its majority in a trust vote. Pawar also asserted that the BJP has played a role in the crisis that has befallen the Uddhav Thackeray-led government.

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