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No-trust Vote: 'Miffed' Sena Does a U-turn, Withdraws Whip to MPs to Support Modi Govt

A Sena source said there was a change of mind after the party learnt that the BJP, in a bid to woo Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana’s Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti, assured him of considering his demand to increase the milk procurement price in Maharashtra, even when Shetti has been critical of the NDA and the BJP.

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Updated:July 20, 2018, 10:06 AM IST
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No-trust Vote: 'Miffed' Sena Does a U-turn, Withdraws Whip to MPs to Support Modi Govt
File photo of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray with BJP national president Amit Shah.
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Mumbai: Hours after the Shiv Sena issued a whip to its MPs to support the NDA government during the no-trust motion, the party did a volte-face and said the final decision on the vote would be taken on Friday.

A Sena functionary said party chief Uddhav Thackeray had asked his MPs to remain in Delhi, but no decision was taken on the no-trust vote.

“Uddhav-ji has asked all party MPs to be present in Delhi tomorrow [Friday] and they will be told by the Sena president about the party's decision by morning,” Harshal Pradhan, Uddhav’s confidant said.

When contacted, Sena’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha Chandrakant Khaire said the earlier “notice” (whip) issued to the party MPs had said they must remain present in Parliament all day long. “All party MPs were told that the final decision will be taken by Uddhav-ji and conveyed to them,” Khaire said.

A Sena source said the earlier whip was issued “by mistake” and it has been recalled.

He said there was a change in plans after the party learnt that the BJP, in a bid to woo Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghtana’s Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti, assured him of considering his demand to increase the milk procurement price in Maharashtra, even though Shetti has been a vocal critic of the NDA and the BJP. Late in the evening, the government announced an increase of Rs 5 in milk prices.

The source said the Sena was of the opinion that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government was walking on thin ice in terms of numbers to cross the majority mark in the Lok Sabha.

The no-trust motion will be the first since the BJP-led NDA government came to power four years ago. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s decision to accept the motion moved by former BJP ally TDP and others came on the first day of the monsoon session.

The Shiv Sena has 18 Lok Sabha MPs. The TDP had hoped that the Sena would support its motion and had sent feelers to the party.

The TDP had claimed that on the day of voting, not just the Sena, but even disgruntled MPs from BJP and other National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies would support the motion.

The Narendra Modi government is expected to coast through the motion and sources said it has the support of at least 314 MPs, well clear of the halfway mark at 268. The vote, however, is being viewed as the first test of opposition unity before the 2019 elections.

The Opposition is seeking to use the opportunity to send a message from the floor of the Lok Sabha about the failures of the Modi government and build enough momentum ahead of the polls.

(With PTI inputs)
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