Mumbai, Jul 4 (IANS): In a major setback for the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, the Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat has struck down appointments of Ajay Chaudhary as the Shiv Sena Legislature Party Leader (SSLP) and the Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu.
The action came late on Sunday.
The legislature has accorded recognition to the Sena rebel leader -- now Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, as the SSLP and the rebel group's nominee Bharat Gogawale as the Chief Whip.
Following the rebellion in the Sena which erupted on June 20, the Sena had removed its then SSLP leader Shinde and replaced him with Ajay Chaudhary, besides naming Prabhu as the Chief Whip.
Terming the Shiv Sena moves as 'illegal', the rebel group camping in Guwahati hit back by appointing Gogawale as its Chief Whip and claimed Shinde continued to be the SSLP leader.
Chaudhary said on Monday (July 4) that the Legislature Secretariat has no authority to strike down the appointments and they would challenge it in the court.
Early in the day, Sena's Prabhu and the Shinde Group's Gogawale issued Whips on all Shiv Sena leaders pertaining to the confidence vote scheduled later in the day.
It maybe recalled that on Sunday also, both sides had issued Whips to all Sena MLAs, leading to strong objections and bitter counter-claims after the Speaker elections.
While the Sena claimed that 49 (rebel) MLAs flouted its Whip, the Shinde Group contended that 16 (Sena) MLAs had not obeyed its Whip for the Speaker polls.
Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut Monday strongly slammed the State Legislature Secretariat move and said the party is prepared for a long-drawn legal battle against the decision.
Citing several precedents, Raut reiterated that the 56-year-old 'party led by Thackeray is the only Shiv Sena', and all the MLAs have won elections on its ticket and party symbol.