For rebels Sena MLAs, NCP a bigger problem than Congress

The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 03:45 am

For rebels Sena MLAs, NCP a bigger problem than Congress

IN THE ongoing turmoil in the Shiv Sena, one thing that has come out in the open is that the party has a problem when it comes to getting along with Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – its alliance partner in the state’s ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. A few MLAs belonging to the rebel group led by Eknath Shinde made it clear that they don’t have a problem dealing with the Congress – the third alliance partner – even as they are at odds with the NCP across the state.“We don’t have a problem with our leadership (with the CM) but we have a problem in dealing with the Congress and the NCP, more so with the NCP,” Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat told a Marathi new channel on Tuesday morning from Guwahati where the rebel group is camping.Echoing his views, another rebel Sena MLA, cabinet minister Sandeepan Bhumre, said, “Congress is not much of a problem. But, we don’t get along with the NCP.” The MLAs complained that they were not getting the development funds required for their constituencies.Bhumre said, “Our main demand is that our work should be done; we should get development fund for our constituencies.”Bhumre said the Sena MLAs were repeatedly facing harassment from the Congress and the NCP. “We had repeatedly told the CM about the hurdles we were facing,” said Bhumre, who had once said that he would “jump from seventh floor of a building” to prove his loyalty to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.A former Shiv Sena MP said, “Take the case of Pune district: the Shiv Sena is strong in rural areas. The BJP hardly has a presence in rural parts. Our fight here is with the NCP. In the next elections, many of our Sainiks might not get to even contest. So what is the use of teaming up with the NCP?”Though elections are far away, the former MP said that the Sena MLAs and even ministers are hard-pressed to get funds sanctioned for their constituencies as the respective ministries are held by NCP leaders.In Maval Lok Sabha in Pune district, where Shiv Sena’s Shrirang Barne has won twice with huge margin, the NCP is believed to be grooming Parth Pawar. “The NCP is determined that Parth Pawar should get the ticket from Maval in the next Lok Sabha election. That means a proven winner will have to lose out if Ajit Pawar puts his foot down and ifSena remains in alliance with the NCP,” said a Sena MP. MVA minister Bachchu Kadu, who heads the Prahar Janshakti, which had aligned with the Shiv Sena but has turned rebel now, told a news channel: “I don’t have any personal issues…The MLAs had issues regarding distribution of development funds. There was gross inequality in distribution of development required by MLAs in their constituencies…Shiv Sena MLAs felt neglected…”NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade denied that there was friction between the NCP and the Sena. “Actually, those who have lost election to NCP candidates are making all the noise. The NCP and the Sena have very cordial relations, both at the top and at lower levels as well.”Farmer leader Raju Shetti, whose Swambhimani Paksha had aligned with the MVA, said that from the reactions that are emerging from the rebel MLAs, it is clear that the NCP has not treated its ally with respect. “The NCP has not treated a friendly party with respect. NCP leaders seemed to be power hungry, the way they have behaved is not good for democracy,” he said.On the other hand, Congress spokesperson Gopal Tiwari said, “The Congress shares a very good rapport with the Sena. Sena leaders like the CM and Sanjay Raut have repeatedly said that top Congress leaders are in touch with them regularly. At local or grassroots level too, Congress has no quarrel with the Sena.”Meanwhile, Kadu said 33 Shiv Sena MLAs and three independent legislators are with them.Stating that they will be forming a separate group in the state Assembly, Kadu claimed that in the next two or three days, the figure of MLAs who would join them would go up to 50. “These include those from the Shiv Sena, independents and Congress party as well,” he told a Marathi news channel. When asked whether BJP leaders from Maharashtra were in touch with them, Kadu replied in the affirmative. “Te chaloo ahey… (that’s going on). SanjayKute of the BJP is with us,” he said.Kadu said he had called up Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday. “The CM sounded upset…he said you come back, we will discuss (the issue),” he said.Kadu denied allegations by Sena spokesperson Raut that a few of the MLAs were forcibly being taken to Surat and even beaten up. “No, that’s not true. We are all together, happy and here on our own free will,” he said.Bhumre said, “There are 35-36 MLAs in our group. We are all together under the leadership of Eknath Shinde. We will follow whatever decision he takes. Many people have called me; I told them that I was with Shinde saheb. We have accepted his leadership,” he said. “We will remain with Shiv Sena…” he added.

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Explained: Speaker’s powers in a rebellion
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 29-06-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 29-06-2022 | 12:45 am

While granting interim relief to rebel MLAs of the Shiv Sena on Monday, the Supreme Court made a crucial but unusual judicial intervention that raises questions on the powers of the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The Speaker’s powers under the Tenth Schedule have been previously upheld by the Supreme Court itself; the court has allowed judicial review only once the Speaker has made a decision, and has ruled out interference with the process.The question of when a floor test will be held in the Maharashtra Assembly, meanwhile, remains unclear. BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari late on Tuesday.What does the interim order say?The interim order grants more time to the rebel MLAs — until July 11 — to reply to the disqualification notice served on them. It seeks affidavits from them, and also a counter-affidavit from the Deputy Speaker on his removal as demanded by the rebels.In granting more time, the Supreme Court has essentially delayed the disqualification proceedings, which would have a direct impact on atrust vote in the Assembly, whenever it takes place.The issue of considering the removal of the Deputy Speaker himself is more complex and raises questions on the sanctity of the Tenth Schedule.What does the Tenth Schedule say?The Tenth Schedule or the anti-defection law, introduced in 1985, gives the Speaker of the House the power to disqualify legislators who ‘defect’ from the party. In the landmark case Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillhu in 1992, the Supreme Court upheld the power vested in the Speaker and said that only the final order of the Speaker will be subject to judicial review.Courts have refrained from interfering with the process itself.However, a 2016 ruling of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court has shifted the balance on the powers of the Speaker. In the landmark Nabam Rebia v Bemang Felix case, concerning a constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh then, a five-judge Bench of the SC limited the Speaker’s powers.What was the Nabam Rebia ruling?While the larger legal issue in the Nabam Rebia ruling was on the contours of the powers and limitations of the Governor, the issue of anti-defection also came up. On that point, the Supreme Court held that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for a speaker to proceed with disqualification proceedings, if a no-confidence motion against him is pending.“The action of the Speaker in continuing, with one or more disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule, whilst a notice of resolution for his own removal, from the office of Speaker is pending, would ‘appear’ to be unfair. If a Speaker truly and rightfully enjoys support of the majority of the MLAs, there would be no difficulty whatsoever, to demonstrate the confidence which the members of the State Legislature, repose in him,” the Supreme Court ruled.This ruling gave a window to defecting legislators to stall or circumvent the Tenth Schedule by seeking removal of the Speaker when disqualification proceedings are anticipated — effectively tying the hands of the Speaker.Have legislators used this legal route?Yes, since 2016, this legal route has a been a familiar playbook for legislators cutting across states and political affiliations.In 2016, rebel MLAs of the Congress including Vijay Bahuguna sought removal of Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal after shifting ranks to the BJP to stall anti-defection proceedings.In 2018, AIADMK legislator S Karunas sent a notice to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Secretary K Srinivasan, seeking removal of Speaker P Dhanapal at a time when the AIADMK leadership was mulling action against Karunas and three other MLAs for having pledged their support to T T V Dhinakaran.In June 2020, the Congress in Manipur served a notice for the removal of Speaker Y Khemchand as nine of its MLAs defected to the BJP.How can the Speaker be removed?Under Article 179 of the Constitution, a Speaker can be removed by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of “all the then members of the Assembly”. The process begins with notice of at least 14 days.In the 2016 Nabam Rebia ruling, the Supreme Court interpreted Article 179, specifically the term “all the then members of the Assembly”, to mean the composition of the house at the date/time of giving the notice for the removal of the Speaker. This interpretation would mean that the composition of the Assembly cannot be changed from the date of issuing of a notice of the removal of the Speaker, and therefore the Speaker cannot make any decisions under the Tenth Schedule to change the composition of the House until the question of his removal is settled.During the hearing on the Maharashtra situation, senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, appearing for the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, referred to the 2016 Nabam Rebia ruling to argue that the Deputy Speaker of an Assembly cannot decide on disqualification of MLAs while a motion for his or her removal is pending.What were the reasons for the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision?The Supreme Court’s reasoning in barring the Speaker from acting under the Tenth Schedule when a notice for his own removal is pending, is to ensure that the Speaker who disqualifies legislators must enjoy the confidence of the Assembly.“After all, disposal of the motion under Article 179(c), would take no time at all. As soon as the motion is moved, on the floor of the House, the decision thereon will emerge, forthwith. Why would a Speaker who is confident of his majority, fear a floor test? After his position as Speaker is affirmed, he would assuredly and with conviction, deal with the disqualification petitions, under the Tenth Schedule. And, why should a Speaker who is not confident of facing a motion, for his removal, have the right to adjudicate upondisqualification petitions, under the Tenth Schedule?” the Supreme Court had said in Nabam Rebia.This interpretation would mean defection is followed by an immediate floor test and not proceedings of the Tenth Schedule. A floor test is the ultimate step in ascertaining majority in the House, but legal experts have criticised that 2016 interpretation saying it would not lead to ascertaining “real majority” that is determined after punishing defecting MLAs.

Explained: Speaker’s powers in a rebellion
At 23%, Pune weekly Covid positivity rate almost double of Maharashtra’s average
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 29-06-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 29-06-2022 | 12:45 am

At 23 per cent, the Covid positivity rate in Pune in the week ending June 27 was twice that of Maharashtra, according to a state health department report. The Covid weekly positivity rate for Mumbai and Thane in the period was recorded at 16 per cent each.At present, Maharashtra’s weekly Covid positivity rate stands at 12 per cent.According to data, Mumbai has shown an 11 per cent decline in new Covid infections in the week June 21-27 with 12,479 cases being detected vis a vis 14,089 in the preceding week. In contrast, Pune has shown a 66 per cent rise in new Covid infections in the week June 21-27 with 3,583 cases being detected as compared to 2,157 in the preceding week.Experts say there has to be a sustained decrease in the number of cases in the next three to four weeks to affirm whether cases have peaked and are now showing a decline. “This can be anecdotal but patients who contacted me last week with symptoms like fever, cold and cough have tested positive for Covid. A number of them are using rapid antigen tests to get quick results,” Dr Sanjay Pujari, infectious diseases consultant, said.Tally of BA.3, BA.4 patients reaches 63According to the latest report from the National Institute of Virology, seven patients of BA.5 and two of BA.4 variants of Omicron have been detected in the state. These include four from Palghar, three from Raigad and two from Thane from samples collected from May 31 to June 11. 🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨In all, there are 63 patients of BA.4 and BA.5 of which 15 are from Pune, 33 from Mumbai, four each from Nagpur, Thane and Palghar, and three from Raigad.

At 23%, Pune weekly Covid positivity rate almost double of Maharashtra’s average
Uddhav Thackeray Has Lost Majority, Must Face Floor Test: BJP To Governor
Ndtv | 1 hour ago | 29-06-2022 | 12:27 am
Ndtv
1 hour ago | 29-06-2022 | 12:27 am

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has lost majority in house and a floor test is in order, the BJP told the Governor this evening. The party delegation was led by Devendra Fadnavis, who headed for the meet on his return from Delhi. Here are the Top 10 points in this big story:"We have written to the Governor and told him that Shiv Sena's 39 MLAs are repeatedly saying they don't want to be in an alliance with the Congress-NCP. This means they are not with the government," Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after the meeting."So we have told the Governor that he should ask the Chief Minister to conduct a floor test and prove majority," he added.Mr Fadnavis -- the predecessor of Uddhav Thackeray on the top post -- headed for the Governor's House straight from the airport. He was accompanied by Girish Mahajan and state BJP chief Chandrakant Patil.In Delhi, Mr Fadnavis had a 30-minute strategy session with BJP chief JP Nadda this evening amid speculation about the party staking claim to form government.Earlier today, sources had said the Governor may ask Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove majority this week.The Team Thackeray had requested the Supreme Court that no floor test be allowed till the matter of disqualification notices to 17 rebel MLAs be settled. The court has refused to pass orders on it.In a day of fast-paced developments, Mr Thackeray sought a meeting with the rebels on their return to Mumbai, which is likely on Thursday."I want to appeal to you - time is still not lost. Please come, sit with me, remove all doubts from the minds of Shiv Sainiks and the public, then we can find a way out. We can sit together and find a way out," Mr Thackeray wrote.Eknath Shinde, who is leading the coup aganst Uddhav Thackeray,  said that he would go to Mumbai "soon" and "take Balasaheb Thackeray's legacy forward", indicating that he is ready for the next move. He claims he has the backing of around 50 MLAs, nearly 40 of them from the Shiv Sena.The Shiv Sena has accused the BJP of masterminding the revolt and hounding its leaders using investigating agencies. Uddhav Thackeray's key spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, was summoned today by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case but he refused to go. Mr Raut terms the summons a conspiracy. Comments

Uddhav Thackeray Has Lost Majority, Must Face Floor Test: BJP To Governor
Your Daily Wrap: Udaipur tense after man hacked to death, Mukesh Ambani resigns as Reliance Jio’s director; and more
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 28-06-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 28-06-2022 | 10:45 pm

◾ A tailor in Udaipur was hacked to death today by two persons allegedly for posting a social media statement in favour of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, who had made controversial remarks about Prophet Mohammad. With the city tense following the murder, internet services have been suspended, and 600 police personnel along with senior officers are being sent to Udaipur. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has appealed for peace. “Strict action will be taken against all the criminals involved in this incident and the police will go to the bottom of the crime. I appeal to all parties to maintain peace,” he said.◾ Meanwhile, in Delhi, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was sent to four-day police custody over a 2018 tweet that allegedly hurt religious sentiments. On Zubair’s arrest, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes: “The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair in Delhi is pettiness, vengeance and repression let loose on a society once aspiring to be free. It is also a distillation of the way in which the Narendra Modi government draws energy from a thorough contempt for liberty, decency, constitutional values, and the opinion of the international community.”◾ In Maharashtra, where the political turmoil refuses to abate, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs to return, saying he is “worried” about them. “Don’t fall prey to anyone’s missteps. The honour given to you by Shiv Sena cannot be found anywhere. If you come forward and speak, we will sort out the issues. As Shiv Sena party chief and family head, I am still worried about you. Come here for a dialogue,” he said. His appeal came hours after Rebel leader Eknath Shinde said he will soon return to Mumbai.◾ In other news from the city, four people were killed after a helicopter operating for the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) made an emergency landing off the Mumbai coast. The chopper, with nine people on board, ditched in the sea 60 nautical miles away from Mumbai near Sagar Kiran rig on Tuesday morning.◾ In business news, the GST Council today approved changes in tax rates on some goods and services while allowing states to issue an e-way bill for intra-state movement of gold and precious stones. The Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also cleared a host of compliance procedures for GST-registered businesses along with a GoM report on high-risk taxpayers to check evasion.◾ Mukesh Ambani has resigned from the board of his group’s telecom arm, Reliance Jio and handed over the reins of the company to elder son Akash, a step seen as succession planning by the 65-year old billionaire. In a stock exchange filing, Reliance Jio Infocomm said the company’s board at a meeting on June 27, “approved the appointment of Akash M Ambani, non-executive director, as chairman of the board of directors of the company.”Political Pulse◾ The BJP is hoping for gains beyond the immediate in its storming of the Samajwadi Party bastions of Rampur and Azamgarh Lok Sabha seats in the recent bypolls. The planning and strategy to secure the constituencies, supervised by senior leader Amit Shah as per sources, have punched holes in the SP’s confidence in its loyal Muslim-Yadav vote bank. The results also fit in with the BJP’s Mission 2024 plans, which it has already set in motion. With the SP having mounted a creditable challenge to it in the recent Assembly elections, the BJP knows the party as the one to beat in the state, and these two seats were its best chance of sending a message to the party. Liz Mathew reports.◾ From the Urdu Press: As a major political turmoil roiled Maharashtra with an intra-Shiv Sena power struggle pushing the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government to the brink, the country’s leading Urdu newspapers provided its saturation coverage in their news and commentary pages. In their reporting and analysis, they also focused on the July 18 Presidential election, the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Zakia Jafri’s appeal challenging the SIT’s clean chit to the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 Gujarat riots, spotlighting the subsequent arrests of activist-journalist Teesta Setalvad and ex-DGP RB Sreekumar.Express Explained◾ ‘Hermit’ is the latest sophisticated spyware in the news, and it is believed to have targeted iPhones and Android devices in Italy and Kazakhstan. Hermit’s deployment – the spyware has been developed by an Italian vendor called RCS Lab – was first reported by cyber security researchers at the Lookout, a San-Francisco-based cybersecurity firm. What is Hermit, what exactly does it do on a device, and how can users keep themselves safe? We explain.◾ The G7 countries, who are meeting during the ongoing Leaders’ Summit in Germany, have officially launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), a joint initiative to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries. The project, launched on June 27, is being seen as the bloc’s counter to China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative. What is PGII, where are funds being directed under the plan, and what has been China’s response to the announcement? Read here.

Your Daily Wrap: Udaipur tense after man hacked to death, Mukesh Ambani resigns as Reliance Jio’s director; and more
Maharashtra cabinet to decide on renaming Aurangabad city to Sambhaji Nagar: Anil Parab
The Indian Express | 3 hours ago | 28-06-2022 | 10:45 pm
The Indian Express
3 hours ago | 28-06-2022 | 10:45 pm

The Shiv Sena Tuesday raised the issue of renaming of Aurangabad city to Sambhaji Nagar and said the state cabinet will take a decision on the matter Wednesday.“In today’s cabinet, I have raised the issue of renaming Aurangabad city to Sambhaji Nagar. A resolution to this effect will be discussed in the next cabinet meeting that will be held on Wednesday,” minister Anil Parab said after the cabinet meeting Tuesday.The Shiv Sena’s decision to rake up the renaming issue comes at a time when it is facing a serious political crisis with a large chunk of party MLAs having deserted the Sena. The rebel MLAs have over the past few days questioned the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena’s commitment to Hindutva, stating that the party is gradually being weaned away from its core ideology.In the late 1980s, Aurangabad became one of the first major cities outside the Mumbai-Thane belt that the Sena set its eyes on, said political pundits. The city’s 30 per cent Muslim population made it fertile ground for polarisation, and soon after riots that led to the killing of over 25 people, in 1988, the Sena won the elections to the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation.On May 8, 1988, Shiv Sena supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray announced the renaming of the city as Sambhaji Nagar after Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji, who was killed by Aurangzeb. In 1995, the corporation passed a resolution to do so, and the Shiv-Sena led government in the state issued a notification seeking suggestions and objections from people on this.The notification was challenged in the Bombay High Court by then AMC Congress corporator Mushtaq Ahmed. While the plea was dismissed by the Court stating that no decision had been taken, the renaming has remained a contentious issue and resurfaces ahead of every election.With the Shiv Sena in power, both the BJP and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have over the past two years been criticising the Sena for its failure to rename the city. Sena’s MVA allies, the Congress and the NCP, have not been too keen on the renaming of the city.In March 2020, the MVA government had cleared a proposal to rename the Aurangabad airport as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Airport. However, this has not yet got the go-ahead from the Centre.

Maharashtra cabinet to decide on renaming Aurangabad city to Sambhaji Nagar: Anil Parab