INDIA. MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena, which lost power in Maharashtra due to a rebellion by MLA Eknath Shinde, replaced the Chief Whip in Lok Sabha to avoid floor-crossing ahead of the Monsoon session of Parliament scheduled to commence on July 18.
The party removed Bhavana Gawali (MP from Yavatmal-Washim) as a Chief Whip and appointed Rajan Vichare (MP from Thane) in her place as a precautionary measure. The Shiv Sena Spokesman Sanjay Raut, MP, in the letters to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, communicated about the change on Wednesday. The Shiv Sena has 18 Lok Sabha members.
Gawali had openly advocated that the party should toe the line of Shinde, sever ties with the Congress and NCP, and join hands with the BJP on ideological grounds. She had also written a letter to Uddhav Thackeray in this regard.
Gawali is under investigation by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), based on an (FIR) filed at Washim in May 2020 in connection with alleged financial irregularities in Mahila Utkarsh Pratishthan Trust.
In another development, Rahul Shewale, Shiv Sena MP from the Mumbai South Central constituency, in a letter to Thackeray, has suggested that the party should support the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Presidential candidate Draupadi Murmu since she is a capable and authoritative woman and is slated to become the first tribal President.
Shewale has also pointed out that the Shiv Sena Supremo venerable Balasaheb Thackeray had expressed his support to former Presidents Pratibha Patil and Pranab Mukherjee. However, they were Congress (United Progressive Alliance nominees) candidates, and the Shiv Sena was part of the NDA at that time. The support was extended to Patil, being the Maharashtrian and first woman Presidential candidate. Mukherjee was given support for his calibre.
Shiv Sena insiders are surprised by Shewale’s move as they wonder whether he is going to migrate to the Shinde camp. The Shinde camp spokesman Deepak Kesarkar has already urged all legislators and MPs from across parties in Maharashtra to support Murmu in keeping with Maharashtra’s tradition of recognising the women’s contribution to society.
In yet another development, former Union Minister and MP from Amravati, Anand Adsul, resigned from his position as a leader of the party on Wednesday.
In a letter to Thackeray, Adsul communicated that he had resigned from the leadership position. His son, former Shiv Sena MLA Abhijit Adsul, said his father resigned. “But we continue to be Shiv Sainiks”, he added.
According to the Shiv Sena’s organisational structure, the party is led by a chief (pramukh), who is followed by 15 leaders (neta), several district chiefs (Zilla pramukh) and deputy leaders (upneta).
Adsul has been the subject of an ED investigation into alleged irregularities totalling Rs 980 crore at the City Cooperative Bank, of which he was a former chairman. The money laundering case registered is based on a First Information Report (FIR) of the Mumbai Police Economic Offences Wing (EOW) into the irregularities in the disbursement of loan funds and other financial transactions of the bank. The ED had searched Adsul’s office in October last year.
He is accused of doling out loans to entities and individuals with very low or no collateral. The Reserve Bank of India has placed restrictions on the bank, which has 14 branches in Mumbai and surrounding areas and 90,000 depositors, since April 2018.
According to sources, Adsul is upset that he did not receive any support from the party in fighting the case. He may switch on to the Shinde faction, anticipating the ED action’s relief.
Adsul, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from the Amravati (Vidarbha), lost to the Congress-backed Independent Navnit Kaur Rana on the seat reserved for Scheduled caste candidates. Bombay High had termed the caste certificate produced by Rana as fraudulent. However, in June last year, the Supreme Court reversed the high court’s judgment. Since then, the matter has been pending.
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