After being dislodged from power in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena has staked a claim on the post of leader of opposition in the state Legislative Council.
A delegation of Shiv Sena MLCs – Manisha Kayande, Sachin Ahir, Ambadas Danve, Vilas Potnis and Sunil Shinde – met Council Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe on Monday and submitted a letter staking a claim for the post of the LoP and chief whip.
The race is between the NCP and the Shiv Sena, amid fears that some of its members may switch sides.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP is just two short of the Sena’s tally in the Upper House of the state legislature.
As on July 8, the 78-member Maharashtra Legislative Council has 24 BJP members, 12 of the Shiv Sena and 10 each of the Congress and NCP. The Lok Bharti, Peasants and Workers Party of India and the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh have one member each. The Council also has four independents, while 15 seats are vacant.
The Sena’s move comes following a rebellion in the party, which led to its 55 MLAs splitting into two factions. The camp led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has the support of 40 MLAs, while 15 have sided with former CM Uddhav Thackeray.
The revolt had also led to the collapse of the Thackeray-led tripartite government comprising the Sena, NCP and Congress.
Subsequently, the Shinde faction in coalition with the BJP formed a government in the state.
The NCP, which has 53 MLAs in Maharashtra, leads the opposition in the legislature’s Lower House. Earlier this month, NCP’s Ajit Pawar was elected the leader of the opposition in the state Assembly.