Maharashtra Legislative Assembly's Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal on Thursday , 23 June, said he had approved Ajay Choudhary's appointment as Shiv Sena's group leader in the House, replacing rebel legislator Eknath Shinde.
The Shiv Sena on Tuesday removed Shinde as the party's group leader in the Assembly, hours after he rebelled and travelled to Surat in Gujarat with a number of Shiv Sena MLAs.
This has triggered the destabilisation of tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA – comprising the Sena, NCP and Congress) government in Maharashtra.
"I have received a letter from the Shiv Sena, informing me that it is appointing Ajay Choudhary as the party's leader in the Assembly and removing Shinde from the post with immediate effect," he said.
"I have accepted the letter, which was sent by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray,” he said.
He added that Shinde's removal as the Sena group leader in the Assembly was valid.
A video that has emerged from the Guwahati hotel showed 42 MLAs, including 35 Shiv Sena MLAs and seven Independents, in Shinde's camp of rebels. Meanwhile, several reports claimed that only 12-13 MLAs were present in the meeting called by Uddhav Thackeray earlier on Thursday.
Shinde had on Wednesday submitted a letter to the Assembly's deputy speaker, signed by 35 Sena MLAs, replacing Sunil Prabhu with Bharat Gogavale as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena legislature party.
In response to that, the deputy speaker said:
“The Independents have no role in such party affairs. One (Shiv Sena) MLA, Nitin Deshmukh (who had accompanied rebel leader to Surat), has claimed that he has not signed the letter issued by Shinde. I will study it, seek the advice of legal experts and then decide (on it).”
Deshmukh on Wednesday claimed that he was forcibly admitted him to a hospital in Surat and administered injections although he never suffered a heart attack.
Deshmukh, the MLA from Balapur in Akola district, had said he somehow managed to return safely to Maharashtra from Surat, and pledged loyalty to Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
On Tuesday, 21 June, Deshmukh's wife had filed a missing complaint for her husband with the Akola police.
(With inputs from PTI.)