MUMBAI: Amid the ongoing battle between two Shiv Sena factions led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and former CM Uddhav Thackeray, both the sides issued separate whips to the party legislators to vote in favour of their respective candidates during the state Assembly Speaker's election on Sunday.
The group led by Shinde voted in favour of BJP's Rahul Narvekar as the Speaker, while 16 MLAs from the Thackeray-led camp voted against him.
The group led by Thackeray later gave a letter to Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, claiming some MLAs violated the party's directive.
After the two-day special session of the Maharashtra Assembly commenced at 11 am, Rahul Narvekar of the BJP was elected its Speaker.
Narvekar, who polled 164 votes, defeated Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena candidate Rajan Salvi, who got 107 votes.
The Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs in the House.
After the new Speaker's announcement, Zirwal informed the House that he had received a letter from the Sena's chief whip Sunil Prabhu (of the Thackeray side) against some MLAs for alleged violation of their party's directive.
Prabhu also said in the House that, We have given a letter to Zirwal about 39 MLAs of the Sena violating the party's directive.
Later, MLA Deepak Kesarkar, who is part of the Eknath Shinde faction, said, "A letter against us has been given to the deputy speaker. We had also issued a whip to the remaining 16 MLAs who are not with us."
Zirwal said he had received a letter from the Sena (Thackeray group) regarding some MLAs not following the party whip.
"A video recording of the voting is available, apart from other documentary evidences, said Zirwal, who did not issue any directive in the matter."
Notably, the Supreme Court will hear on July 11 the plea of Sunil Prabhu, seeking suspension from the Assembly of CM Eknath Shinde and 15 rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas are pending.
Last month, Shinde launched a rebellion against the party.
The majority of MLAs sided with him, which led to the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA-comprising the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress) government led by Uddhav Thackeray.
Shinde was on Thursday sworn in as the 20th chief minister of Maharashtra, while BJP stalwart Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the deputy CM.
After stepping down as the CM, Thackeray removed Shinde from the post of 'Shiv Sena leader'.