The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 22-06-2022 | 02:45 pm
On June 19, addressing party members on the day the Shiv Sena turned 56, president Uddhav Thackeray spoke with pride about how the party had overcome “storms” to lead Maharashtra. Two days later, the Sena is struggling to survive what is indisputably its toughest storm yet.The challenger this time is the low-profile, soft-spoken senior leader and Cabinet minister Eknath Shinde, who like a true Sainik was valued for his roots to the ground, his rise up the ranks and, ironically, his loyalty.With two-third Sena MLAs seemingly with Shinde as of Wednesday morning, the Thackerays are facing the improbable scenario of being at the losing end in a party that drew its lifeblood from founder-supremo and larger-than-life Bal Thackeray, 10 years after his death.The loss will be even more galling as son Uddhav Thackeray controls not just the party at this time but also the government, and could end up losing chief ministership of a lucrative state like Maharashtra.It was on June 19, 1966, that the Shiv Sena was formed in Mumbai, on the central plank of prioritising “Marathi manoos” or sons of the soil. In the 1970s, this agenda was expanded to adopting Hindutva. Bal Thackeray or Balasaheb, as he was addressed, drew his strength from the OBCs and set up an entrenched shakha system that soon became the first stop for civilians seeking quick resolution for their grievances. The Sainiks would oblige with their way of instant justice, not shying away from using strong-arm tactics, further increasing their popularity.Eknath Shinde joined the Sena sometime in the 1980s, and soon found a mentor in Anand Dighe, a fiery Thane leader well-versed in the ways of the Sena. Apart from loyalty to Balasaheb, Shinde has continued to swear by the late Dighe, including in the hours since his rebellion.If one of his main grievances is said to be the Sena’s decision to ditch old ally BJP for the NCP and Congress, and the modulation of the party’s hard Hindutva image, there are several reasons Shinde’s revolt is more serious than others the Sena has bettered.The first such division was in 1991, when another firebrand leader, Chhagan Bhujbal, resigned from the party, walking out with over a dozen Sena members. Bhujbal cited the Shiv Sena’s opposition to the Mandal Commission recommending OBC reservation in higher institutions as a reason for leaving the party. But the real issue was that the OBC leader could not get along with Manohar Joshi.After leaving the Sena, Bhujbal joined the Congress. Later, when Sharad Pawar parted ways with the Congress to form the NCP, Bhujbal had joined him. The NCP rewarded him with deputy chief ministership and the Home portfolio in 1999, and in the current government, he is Minister for Food and Civil Supplies.The next signs of dissent in the Shiv Sena came when it became clear that Bal Thackeray was leaning towards Uddhav as his successor. This was formalised at the 2003 Sena conclave in Mahabaleshwar, where Uddhav was named the party executive president. The biggest blow was to Bal Thackeray’s nephew Raj Thackeray, who saw himself as the natural claimant to the Sena supremo’s legacy.In July 2005, Narayan Rane who questioned the decision to pick Uddhav was expelled for ” anti-party activities”. A former CM with his base in coastal Konkan, Rane walked out of the party with a dozen MLAs and soon joined the Congress. In 2017, he quit the Congress saying the party had betrayed him. After a short stint at the head of his own party, Rane joined the BJP and was made a Rajya Sabha MP. Currently, he is Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the Modi government.In December 2005, Raj Thackeray too left the Sena, resigning from its primary membership. Apart from the political impact, the move was symbolic as it showed a chink in the formidable Thackeray family front. “All I asked for was respect. But all I got was humiliation and insult,” he said in an emotional address after his resignation.Months later, on March 9, 2006, Raj Thackeray announced a new party named Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). With Bal Thackeray ailing but still in control of the Sena, Raj achieved less than he hoped. While some younger Sainiks gravitated towards Raj, who was more in the mould of Balasaheb than Uddhav, the old guard and most of the leaders remained with the family.In the years since, as the MNS dwindled to a single MLA in the House and very little presence on the ground, the Sena stood united. There were a few instances of individual leaders leaving, but none that caused it any sleepless nights.Then came 2019 and Uddhav Thackeray’s ascension as CM at the head of an unlikely coalition. The hope that this marked a new dawn for the Sena, which feared slipping into the shadows as partner BJP loomed bigger and bigger under Narendra Modi, died on June 21.
NEW DELHI: There is no end in sight for the Maharashtra political crisis and the tussle within the Shiv Sena, as the rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde seem prepared to stay put in Guwahati. They are awaiting clarity on two moot points before contemplating a return to Mumbai- the possible disqualification of 16 dissident MLAs and the appointment of the chief whip in the legislative assembly. The battle could well get dragged to the courts as the two sides look closely at the legal options available. Eknath Shinde tweets rebel MLA's letter to Thackeray: CM was inaccessible to usUddhav Thackeray has called a meeting of the party's national executive committee on Saturday at 1pm. The meeting will be held at Mumbai's Shiv Sena Bhavan which the CM will join virtually. Maharashtra crisis live updatesThe rebel faction of Eknath Shinde will also convene for a meeting at Radisson Blu Hotel in Guwahati this afternoon to discuss further strategy, sources said. Maharashtra crisis: Shiv Sena workers smear black ink on rebel MLA Sada Sarvankar's postersHere are the latest developments in the Maharashtra political saga: Eknath Shinde writes to CM Thackeray over security concernsRebel Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde has shot off a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and all police commissioners in the state, claiming that the security to the family members of the 38 "rebel" MLAs have been "maliciously" withdrawn. He alleged that MVA leaders have instigated their cadres to take up violence against the rebel MLAs and intimidate them. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has threatened that they would not be able to move around in Maharashtra, he said. Shinde further said that in Punjab, the security of high profile persons was removed and then they became the targets of goons and gangsters. he expressed concern that the same could happen in Maharashtra. Reacting to Shinde's letter, Sena MP Sanjay Raut said only MLAs are eligible for state security, but not their families. Shortly afterwards, Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse Patil said in a tweet that no orders have been issued by the CM or home department to remove the security of any MLA. The allegations are totally false and misleading. 'Skipping meet no ground for disqualification'The political drama unfolding in Maharashtra now has legal experts divided too on whether disqualification can be sought for the 'rebels' in Shiv Sena. However, most are in agreement that the MLAs cannot be disqualified on grounds of not attending recent party meetings as that is outside the ambit of legislative affairs. Why Eknath Shinde's rebellion made Shiv Sena stop and take noteThe party's petition to the deputy speaker seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs including rebel leader Eknath Shinde has sought to invoke para 2 (1) (a) of the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which governs 'disqualification on grounds of defection'. Maha crisis: Eknath Shinde showcases strength, releases first video with 42 rebel MLAs from Guwahati280 MVA decisions in 4 days; ‘rebels’ arranged orders, funds before flightThe MVA government led by CM Uddhav Thackeray has taken 280 decisions since Monday. "It seems that the rebel cabinet members ensured that all relevant orders are issued before they leave Mumbai, an official said. "They took proper care: orders have been issued and adequate budgetary provisions made for the purpose," he said. Read AlsoOptions before Eknath Shinde: Approach court or governorFour days after rebel Shiv Sena member Eknath Shinde raised the banner of revolt against the leadership of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, the moot question is what are the options before him. Experts said since the 10th schedule of the anti-defection law amended in 2003 does not recognise a split,Provisions have been made for Rs 1,200 crore for providing power at a concessional rate for industrial consumers in the backward areas in Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra. Provisions have also been made for distribution of bulk water to private housing societies. As many as 18 decisions have been taken by the water supply department controlled by rebel minister Gulabrao Patil. 'Rebels in no hurry to leave Guwahati until key issues resolved'Former minister and Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar, who is now in the Eknath Shinde camp, told TOI on Friday said the rebel group is in no hurry to return to Maharashtra until two issues - the possible disqualification of 16 dissident MLAs and the appointment of the chief whip in the legislative assembly- are resolved. Kesarkar said, "How can they have their chief whip when their house strength has dwindled to 15 members. Our group has the support of 38 Sena MLAs. These moves are completely unconstitutional. If there is a vote of no-confidence, the downfall of the present government will be imminent." "The petition for disqualification of the 16 MLAs is on ground that they did not attend a meeting of Sena legislators. This meeting was called at very short notice and they must remember that Maharashtra is a big state and, in some parts, it takes at least 10-12 hours to reach Mumbai. How can these MLAs travel from their home district to Mumbai in such a short time? " he said.
MUMBAI: The political drama unfolding in Maharashtra now has legal experts divided too on whether disqualification can be sought for the ‘rebels’ in the Shiv Sena. However, most are in agreement that the MLAs cannot be disqualified on grounds of not attending recent party meetings as that is outside the ambit of legislative affairs. The party’s petition to the deputy speaker seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs including rebel leader Eknath Shinde has sought to invoke para 2 (1) (a) of the 10th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, which governs ‘disqualification on grounds of defection’. A senior counsel from Delhi said the party may be relying on a 2019 Supreme Court judgment in a Karnataka case to argue that the actions of the MLAs would “portray defection.” The Sena plea is that at a “crucial time” during “political uncertainty” when the party needed to consolidate, meetings were called on June 21-22 and despite issuing notices, these MLAs did not attend and instead left for Surat and Guwahati which are in BJP-ruled States. The plea said the BJP, in a conspiracy with these MLAs, is trying to topple the govt and in these circumstances, their not attending the meetings amounted to voluntarily giving up membership of the party; remaining incommunicado and not responding to the call of the leadership also shows that they have given up membership and hence they should be disqualified, it said. However, former attorney general S G Aney said the disqualification process would be “void” legally as not attending the meetings would not amount to quitting the party. Lack of attendance at meetings “cannot be taken into the realm of legislature’s action and the Speaker has no authority over the matter. At best it would be a matter for the party’s internal consideration for consequences on such unbecoming behavior,” said Aney. Anil Sakhare, a senior counsel, also agreed that at this juncture it may not attract disqualification. Senior counsel Prasad Dhakephalkar said the situation is “very fluid’’ but if by their conduct it can be shown that they have left the party, then it may attract disqualification. “But rebels can claim merger,” he added. To overcome any threat of disqualification they have to show 2/3rd members of a party have merged with another party. Under the 10th Schedule paragraph 4, disqualification on grounds of defection would not apply in case of a merger with another party. “It will eventually depend on the facts which at the moment are not all clear,’’ said another senior counsel from Delhi. He added, “At this stage prima facie, there can be no disqualifications since not attending the meeting does not amount to voluntarily giving up the membership of the party. It would depend on the explanation that the member may give. A party cannot single out a few members if there is support of two-third members in the rebel faction. The Karnataka case was different on facts.”
MUMBAI: While Covid-19 cases dipped in Maharashtra on Friday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to lakhs of warkaris walking towards Pandharpur during Ashadhi Wari to use face masks to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The state had registered its highest single-day tally in this surge on Thursday at 5,218, but cases dropped by 20% to 4,205 on Friday. Mumbai saw a 24% drop, with 1,898 cases registered on Friday. "We had a problem updating our data on the ICMR website for a couple of days and that led to a bunching up of cases on Thursday. But the data is now updated and Mumbai is back to reporting less than 2,000 cases a day," said BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare. Two nonagenarians with chronic conditions succumbed to Covid-related complications in Mumbai while the neighbouring Thane city registered a death. Daily hospitalisations which had gone past 100 dropped on Friday to 96. The daily test positivity rate which had increased to 20% a few days back was 12% for the second consecutive day. Dr Gomare said that cases should start plateauing soon. Dr Gautam Bhansali, who is a member of the state Covid task force, said that despite the surge, patients are recovering with minimum medication within a few days. "There is no need to panic at all,'' he said. The surge has been limited to five districts-Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Palghar and Raigad-but the state administration is worried about the Pandharpur yatra. Of the 4,205 cases on Thursday, 3,354 (80%) were detected in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. A state official said, "Active cases in the state have crossed 25,000 as compared to 626 a couple of months back. In this backdrop, the chief minister held a video-conference instructing district collectors, municipal commissioners and district police superintendents to take steps to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.'' Meanwhile, another patient of BA.5 variant has been detected in Nagpur. State surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate said a fully vaccinated 27-year-old female tested Covid-positive on June 19. "She was mildly symptomatic initially but has since become asymptomatic and is stable and in home isolation,'' he added. The total tally of BA.4 and BA.5 variant cases in the state has increased to 26-15 in Pune, five in Mumbai, four in Nagpur and two in Thane.
MUMBAI: As the face-off between the Shiv Sena leadership and the rebels drags on, the Thackeray camp has shed its reconciliatory approach. Senior leaders said in the first two days after the crisis blew up, there was a difference of opinion on whether the chief minister should resign and quit the MVA or face a floor test. According to a source, one section suggested that Uddhav Thackeray should resign and talk to the MLAs after leaving the coalition; others advocated a tough line saying the CM must not give in to pressure from dissidents. CM himself made an emotional pitch in his speech on Wednesday. "There was a difference of opinion. It was suggested that since we don't have the numbers and the Shinde camp is only going to swell, there was no point in going for a floor test since the legal battle would take a long time and losing the floor test could cause more embarrassment to the party," a leader said. A press conference by a senior Sena leader like Subhash Desai was suggested but this plan was dropped. Instead spokesman Sanjay Raut took a strident line on Friday. "We will win on the floor of the house, we won't give up. They (MLAs) have taken a very wrong step. We also gave them a chance to return to Mumbai (and mend fences). Now, we challenge them to come to Mumbai," he said. Earlier Raut had said the party is ready to withdraw from the MVA alliance provided the rebels return to Mumbai and meet the CM. Among senior leaders, Anil Parab, Anil Desai, Subhash Desai and Raut are still with Thackeray apart from 17 MLAs. "Meetings were held in Matoshree. There was a difference of opinion on whether a constitutional or legal battle will help now since it will take a long time. A section said had the CM resigned, Eknath Shinde may have come for negotiation. But Raut's view was the party could not surrender; a legal and constitutional battle was the only way out,," a source said.
MUMBAI: Four days after rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde raised the banner of revolt against the leadership of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, the moot question is what are the options before him. Experts said since the 10th schedule of the anti-defection law amended in 2003 does not recognize a split, there are limited options before Shinde. Till 2003, if 2/3rd of members left a party, they could still form a separate group and not attract the anti-defection law. But since there was no end to defections, the law was further tightened. “Even if you quit the party with 2/3rd members, you still cannot escape disqualification,” former advocate general Ravindra Kadam told TOI. Kadam said Shinde has limited options. “Either he should submit that he represents the original Shiv Sena or he has the option to merge the group with the party which he is proposing to team up with. The new law does not recognize a split,” Kadam said. NCP leader Eknath Khadse said Shinde’s effort to take control of Sena has been thwarted by deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal’s decision to recognize Ajay Choudhary as leader of the Sena legislature party. All orders to enforce a whip or influence voting in the assembly flow from the legislature party leader Khadse said the revolt appears headed for a legal battle. “Whatever is the outcome of the deputy speaker’s decision, Shinde will have to approach the court to prove that he has the authority to appoint a legislative party leader and whip,” Khadse said. Former principal secretary (legislature secretariat) Anant Kalse said since the 10th schedule does not recognize a split, Shinde has limited options. “In my opinion, he should knock at the doors of Raj Bhavan, tell the Governor to convene a special session of the state legislature on the ground that the MVA government has lost majority,” Kalse said.