The ongoing high decibel political and legal battle between rival Shiv Sena groups is set to resonate in the Maharashtra legislature as its Budget session begins on Monday.
The Opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and the Congress boycotted the tea party hosted by the government on the eve of the Budget session on Sunday.
Chief Minister Eknath Shinde took a dig at the Opposition for boycotting the customary tea party and said it was good those having ties with terrorist Dawood Ibrahim did not turn up for it.
He was apparently referring to former state minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik, who is currently in jail following his arrest last year in a money-laundering case linked to the activities of Dawood Ibrahim and his aides.
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.
The Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), comprising the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena (UBT), will 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.
The Shiv Sena led by CM 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 recently 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 on Thursday said 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.
Narvekar has approved the appointment of Shinde as the legislature party leader.
However, senior advocate and former Maharashtra Advocate General Shrihari Aney feels 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.