Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS) Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has been appointed the chief of its Parliamentary Party, a party official said here on Tuesday.
A close confidant of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Executive Editor of party mouthpiece ‘Saamana’, Raut, 56, will now exercise complete control over the entire Sena flock of 21 members in Parliament, said the official.
The party, a part of the National Democratic Alliance, has 18 Lok Sabha members headed by Anandrao Adsul, and three in the Rajya Sabha led by Raut.
Raut’s appointment, the first ever for the party, became effective after Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan late last month, seeking the arrangement as a “facilitative measure.”
Thackeray’s decision has been prompted by a faux pas in July when Shiv Sena Chief Whip in the Lok Sabha, Chandrakant Khaire, had issued a whip to the party MPs to vote in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government during the Opposition’s no-confidence motion.
Later, Thackeray removed Khaire as the Chief Whip and said that the party’s decision was to abstain from voting, which was finally adhered to.
The party has also been haunted by the spectre of alleged attempts to poach its MPs by the BJP, but Raut’s aggressive image and plainspeak is expected to deter any such move.
Raut, who will continue to lead as the Rajya Sabha party leader, is also expected to infuse toughness in dealing with the BJP on various issues on which the Sena was seen to be going soft, besides curbing intra-party tussles among its MPs.