The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 03:45 am
A CHARTERED aircraft, three luxury buses, a nine-seater plane, a hotel about a kilometre from the airport — and at least 32 rebel MLAs from Maharashtra.There were the key elements in play for most of Tuesday and the night that followed as the political crisis in the Shiv Sena and the MVA government in Maharashtra played out at Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat where Sena Minister Eknath Shinde had housed his flock of rebel MLAs, including Independents. Sources told The Indian Express that the BJP’s pointsperson in Surat, Paresh Patel, “took charge of the situation” to ensure that the breakaway group of MLAs was flown out of Surat to Guwahati early on Wednesday morning as at least two MLAs had “tried to escape”.Patel is the standing committee chairman of Surat Municipal Corporation and close aide of Gujarat BJP chief C R Paatil.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨The drama continued on Wednesday when Independent MLA from Jalgaon, Chandrakant Patil, flew to Surat to travel onward to Guwahati with four more MLAs — two from Shiv Sena and two Independents. Sources identified the two Independent MLAs as Manjula Gavit and Gopal Dalvi, and one of the two Sena MLAs as Yogesh Kadam. “A nine-seater plane was arranged for them to fly to Guwahati,” said sources.Earlier, on Tuesday, at least 30 Sena MLAs and two Independents were holed up inside the Le Meridien in Surat under tight police cover. As night fell, a chartered SpiceJet aircraft was ready at the airport. And about 30 minutes past midnight, three luxury buses pulled up at the hotel to take Shinde and his MLAs to the airport and onward to Guwahati.“Precautions were taken so that no MLA could escape,” said sources. As the buses pulled out, some Congress leaders, including former corporator Aslam Cyclewala, gathered near the hotel and shouted slogans against the BJP. Surat continued to figure in the news through most of Wednesday as well after one of the Sena MLAs with Shinde, Nitin Deshmukh, who was admitted in the New Civil hospital on Tuesday, reached Nagpur from Guwahati and levelled serious allegations against the city’s doctors and the police.“(After reaching Surat on Tuesday night), I came out from the hotel early in the morning at 3 am, and tried to escape. After coming to the main road, I was searching for a vehicle to get a lift. Meanwhile, a group of about 100 policemen came to the spot and took me to the New Civil hospital where I was admitted. Later they spread a message that I had suffered a heart attack. I was sedated in the hospital so that I could not escape,” Deshmukh told reporters.Deshmukh’s friend Dilip Bavche told The Indian Express that he flew with Deshmukh and the other MLAs to Guwahati. Bavche had come to Surat with another friend on Tuesday to meet Deshmukh after the MLA’s wife filed a report at the Akola police station that her husband had gone missing.“Our flight landed in Guwahati early in the morning (Wednesday) and we moved away from the queue of MLAs coming out from the airport. We boarded another flight from Guwahati at around 10 am and reached Nagpur. Nitin Deshmukh spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and shared all the details,” Bavche told The Indian Express.New Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Ganesh Govekar said: “The allegations are baseless. Deshmukh is lying.”
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.
NASHIK/AURANGABAD: Members of Shiv Sena in Ahmednagar and Jalgaon municipal corporations are in 'tight spot' following the rebellion by Eknath Shinde. Ahmednagar civic body has 25 Sena corporators and shares power with NCP. Sena got its mayor in Jalgaon Municipal Corporation last year after a defection of 30 BJP corporators engineered by Shinde. Sena sources in Ahmednagar city unit told TOI that at least 10-12 Sena corporators have endorsed the stand taken by Shinde about toeing the Hindutva line. Adav told TOI that although he has huge respect for Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, he fully endorses and supports Shinde. He also said Uddhav is still the chief of Sena. "The party is moving away from its core principle by aligning with parties that are not natural allies of Sena," he said, adding the leaders deputed by central leadership to oversee party affairs in Ahmednagar are ruining Sena in the district. Sena leaders from Jalgaon claimed there is no threat to the ruling party in the civic body, one of the defectors admitted he is watching the political developments keenly. "If the Shinde faction joins hands with BJP to form the government, there is a possibility of a political turmoil in the Jalgaon civic body," added Sena sources. Jalgaon city president Suresh Bhole mocked the defectors saying that they have 'dug their own grave' by deserting BJP. In Aurangabad, which had Shiv Sena and BJP in alliance for the municipal corporation, party workers were confident of bagging more than expected number of seats. The term for the previous body elected ended in April 2020 and since then, the AMC is being headed and run by administrator Astik Kumar Pandey. Former Shiv Sena mayor Nandkumar Ghodele said, "For the first two days, we felt that the rebellion would dent the party. But with the passing of time, we sense a growing sympathy and love for Sena and Thackeray family." He said that in the upcoming civic body elections, Sena will definitely get more seats as people are criticising the rebel camp. During the previous term, Shiv Sena won 28 seats and post election, seven independents joined the fold.
MAHARASHTRA GOVERNMENT has granted yet another extension to the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry. An order to this effect has been issued by the home department on June 20. As per this order, the commission has been given an extension of six months till December 31, 2022.The two-member commission, headed by retired high court judge Justice J N Patel with former chief secretary Sumit Malik as the other member, was constituted by the state government on February 9, 2018, to inquire into the “exact sequence” of events that led to violence on the 200th anniversary of Battle of Koregaon Bhima on January 1 that year. One person had died and several others were left injured in the violence.The commission was initially given four months to submit its report, but its tenure had to be repeatedly extended to allow it to complete its work. Subsequently, the commission received extensions from time to time. The Commission received a two months extension from February 8, 2020 to April 8, 2020. But due to the Covid-19 outbreak, on March 23, 2020, the commission issued a letter postponing the hearings till further notice. Meanwhile, the period of extension granted to the commission by the government expired on April 8.The commission then sought further extension of at least six months, saying that it intended to examine nearly 40 to 50 more witnesses, including police and revenue officers, and a few prominent political leaders. Accordingly, the state government gave the commission an extension till December 31, 2021. The commission then conducted hearings in Pune and Mumbai, but a few important witnesses remain to be examined. So, the panel sought another extension of six months from the state government.Then, the government again granted extension to the commission till June 30, 2022. During this period, the commission examined some witnesses including Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar. However, some important witnesses are part heard and yet to be examined.“So we submitted a status report of the commission and sought one more extension from the government. So far, examination of 38 witnesses is completed. And the commission wants to examine about 15 more witnesses. Government has granted an extension of six months till December 31, 2022. The schedule for the next hearings will be released soon,” said V V Palnitkar, secretary of the Koregaon Bhima Commission of Inquiry.On Thursday, IPS officers Vishwas Nangare Patil and Suvez Haque deposed as witnesses before the commission in Mumbai. Their examination in chief was recorded by commission’s lawyer Aashish Satpute. Currently, joint commissioner (law and order) of Mumbai police, Nangare Patil was the special inspector general of police, Kolhapur range at the time of violence in Koregaon Bhima area (in the jurisdiction of Pune rural police), which was under his supervision. Haque is currently attached to the CBI and was the superintendent (SP) of Pune rural police at the time of Koregaon Bhima violence.
TOP officers of the Maharashtra Police held meetings with commissioners and SPs across the state, asking them to be on alert in the wake of the political crisis prevailing the state. Officers have been asked to identify possible troublemakers and ensure there is no breakdown of law and order in the state.An IPS officer said, “We are concerned about any law-and-order situation in the state especially when the rebel faction comes to the state. We are also keeping an eye out for any possible violence by the Shiv Sainiks against some of the MLAs, who have joined ranks with Shinde.”The officer added that so far, there have been three instances in Mumbai and one in Kolhapur linked to the political crisis. In Mumbai, Shiv Sena workers damaged the offices of rebel MLAs Kudalkar, Sada Sarvankar and Dilip Lande on Friday when their posters blackened. “Local police stations have been asked to ensure that family members of rebel leaders are not attacked,” an officer said.The officer added that they are wary of any street fights between supporters of either side, especially in areas like Thane, which is Shinde’s stronghold. “We have kept reserve police like the State Reserve Police Force on standby to ensure that if there is any issue, prompt action can be taken,” an officer said.“Generally, every MLA in his constituency has rivals, who we fear will use the situation to their advantage in cases where the legislator has defected,” an IPS officer told The Indian Express.There are indications that the Union government may provide the rebel MLAs CRPF cover when they come to Mumbai. “It is the prerogative of the Centre to provide security to any individual or group that it deems fit,” the officer added.