Times of India | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 08:28 am
MUMBAI: On a politically charged day, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tested positive for Covid-19. Eighty-year-old Koshyari, who announced his diagnosis on Twitter early on Wednesday, is in hospital as a precautionary measure. “I have been tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms. However I have been admitted to a hospital as a precautionary measure,” he tweeted. Meanwhile, Thackeray’s Covid-positive status was announced by the All-India Congress Committee (AICC)’s appointed observer in the state, Kamal Nath. He told reporters that he had been unable to meet Thackeray who had tested positive for the infection. Koshyari is admitted to Sir H N Reliance Hospital, Girgaum. Senior hospital officials said the governor is stable but refused to make further comments, citing patient confidentiality. A statement from Raj Bhavan said the governor could be contacted via video-conferencing. "Governor has Covid symptoms. Which is why he is admitted to the hospital. He is stable and there are no such talks of handing over his charge to the other Governor. If anyone wants to get in contact with the Governor, can do it via video-conference," said the statement.
Samajwadi Party (SP) MLA from Bhiwandi East and two-time Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Corporator Rais Shaikh elaborates on where his party stands in the present political situation in Maharashtra, his experience working with the Thackerays and the future of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance.Q) The SP is part of the MVA alliance. Can you elaborate a bit on the present political situation in the state and where your party stands at this point of time?Ans) The country has two clear ideological divides. One is Hindutva where the core belief is to create a Hindu Rashtra. The other side is the liberal India which believes in the idea of the Indian constitution. The Samajwadi Party is definitely on the latter side vis a vis the Shiv Sena. Being part of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has been a difficult journey for us. While there was an ideological divide amongst the parties, the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) that was drafted was meant to ensure we meet on common ground. While the CMP was well thought out, it was quickly forgotten and that is where the problem started. Every MLA who was not a minister was sidelined. There was political interference in every constituency. In my constituency, the Chief Minister started giving funds on request letters from MLAs who had lost. At the grassroots, almost everyone was complaining. If they say that this present situation has been precipitated by the fear of ED (Enforcement Directorate) or due to Hindutva, they are daydreaming. There was clear discontent amongst MLAs who were not accepting the leadership of Uddhav Thackeray. On top of this, we had Aaditya Thackeray who never met anyone.Q) Do you think the moderate face of Hindutva projected by Uddhav Thackeray became a liability for the Shiv Sena?Ans) That is the core of the problem — the transition from a Hindutva party to designing your own Hindutva within the family. The Shiv Sena has a peculiar DNA. Uddhavji was trying to portray that my Hindutva is different from yours. Then Aaditya was creating a big deviation where he was moving towards more of an AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) kind of ideology, trying to get religion-neutral votes. This conflict within the family was dividing the Sena itself.Q) How do you analyse the functioning of Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray?Ans) Uddhavji would think that people will tolerate anything just because he was a Thackeray, which led to him taking others lightly. When I met for Rajya Sabha voting, there was no serious negotiation. When I asked others around him why they didn’t tell him about these issues, they would say you cannot tell critical things to the Thackerays; you can only reply to their questions and you cannot advise them. You can have a conversation with Sharad Pawar, you can fight with Ajit Pawar but you cannot tell the Thackerays anything. With them, it is just one-way communication. With Aaditya, you can talk to him about nice things like what is happening in Davos. But if you tell him that there is garbage strewn around in BDD chawl and something needs to be done, he would get uncomfortable. I had a conversation with him where I told him that his politics was 10 years ahead of time and that these issues will not get votes. He told me somebody should think beyond only votes. I, however, told him that this is not the time. But then he starts ignoring you and stops talking to you.Q) What future do you see of the MVA?Ans) The Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the SP who are committed to secularism will stay together. I am not saying that the state of Maharashtra has accepted Hindutva; it is the MLAs who have accepted it. Maharashtra is a progressive and socialist state and there is place for secular politics. As far as the Sena is concerned, it is not as if the whole Shiv Sena has gone with Shinde. Only the powerful people have left and we must remember that powerful people keep changing. Even today, Shiv Sena has a large grassroot support.Q) Amid complaints over how the CM was not accessible and development funds were not allocated appropriately, as an ally of the MVA, how receptive was the CM toward smaller parties like you? Were your demands from when you joined the alliance fulfilled? What was his approach to issues like Muslim reservation?Ans) He was consciously ignoring us. He always felt that any discussion or statement on minorities will alienate his Hindutva votes. There were, however, two very distinct phases in his style of functioning. Soon after he took over, he was very receptive. After CAA-NRC was brought in, we had a debate over it. He comforted me. There was communication and we had the satisfaction that we had a CM who was willing to listen and felt he was a person you can work with. During Covid, however, we lost him completely. We would meet in assembly, he would ignore everybody. He was just making guest appearances.Q) You have seen the functioning of MMRDA and BMC very closely. Did you feel at any point that Eknath Shinde was continuously being sidelined and if yes, in what ways?Ans) It was happening every time. If Eknath Shinde is the minister for Urban Development and MMRDA is functioning under him, why should Aaditya go and chair its meetings? He was behaving like a prince passing instructions “isko itna fund dena hai, usko utna”. Either your father should make you the party chief or you wait for your opportunity. So, every bureaucrat was really confused with each day.Q) The Maharashtra unit of the SP is identified by many as a Muslim party. There is this perception that many so-called Muslim parties eventually end up being consciously or unconsciously the B team of the BJP by splitting the secular vote. How do you respond to that?Ans) I compromised and became part of the MVA, and contested only three seats. On one of these seats, we had a sitting MLA, in the other two, we were the number two party. I have curtailed my party for the larger secular interest. I did not say I want to fight on several seats like AIMIM did last time in Maharashtra. Second point is my track record, I win seats consistently. I am not like AIMIM, which wins once in Byculla and next time from Dhule. There is a huge difference between AIMIM and us. For the last 25 years, we have been doing stable consistent politics. Our public representatives have consistently won. We have compromised for the larger interest to ensure the Congress or the NCP do not lose because of us.Q) You know how the BMC functions and how the contractor lobbies operate. So, do you see any hope for Mumbai’s roads which develop potholes and get flooded every year?Ans) The BMC is a 125-year-old organisation and we are still depending on a certain handful of contractors to do most of the works. Aaditya (Thackeray) who is a minister could have intervened and changed it. I remember as a child, BMC’s own employees would be used for road construction and surfacing work. This work was cheap and durable. The Shiv Sena has complicated this process by giving out contracts. The rate of road contract is Rs 14,000 per sq metre in our city while the same work was once done by us for as low as Rs 2,800. The Sena has created a cruel financial model in the city. We have to take the focus off contractors. We have a force of 1.25 lakh people working for BMC, which needs to be used effectively.Q) Are you in favour of the BMC being split for better administration?Ans) BMC has a beautiful way of decentralising — we already have administrative wards, we have departments, additional municipal commissioners. I am not in favour of breaking up the BMC. The administrative wards need to be reorganised, I would say. It needs to be made more efficient.
MUMBAI: The Supreme Court order extending till July 12, 5.30 pm, the time granted by the Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly to Eknath Shinde and other 'rebel' MLAs to reply to disqualification notices, paves the way for a "very definite possibility" of a floor test to prove the confidence of the Assembly, said legal experts on Monday. Given that there is no stay on such action, the entire sequence of events now points in the direction of a floor test, which could be the only way out of the impasse in the next two weeks, said experts. "There will be no disqualification till then and they are theoretically entitled to having a floor test,'' said senior counsel Vineet Naik. The SC vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala did orally allow Maharashtra state to knock on its doors in case a no-confidence motion is sought by the 'rebel' MLAs to verify the MVA's numbers in the legislature.Senior counsel Prasad Dhakephalkar said the Maharashtra governor can legally promulgate a Session of the House and direct a floor test be held. The process would then kick in and the State's legal team can immediately rush to the SC and seek an urgent hearing to try and stall it since the apex court is seized of the matter filed by the 'rebel' MLAs. Even if the motion does go ahead, the affected parties can challenge its outcome later. However, in the House during a vote for no-confidence, "there can be no concept of disqualification at that time,'' said a senior advocate from Delhi. But Dhakephalkar said if a motion is called for and a whip issued for members to vote, disobedience in the show of hands may incur consequences and pave way for notice of disqualification. With Shinde camp saying it constitutes a majority of the Shiv Sena Legislative Party, it may issue its own whip. Any disobedience of the whip may entail a disqualification petition, but then the ball may lie in the Speaker's court-and who the Speaker would be will depend on the outcome of the floor test. If the government remains, the Speaker will remain and if the Government falls the Speaker would change. "If a floor test were to be held, Shiv Sena would in all probability issue a whip to vote in favor of the Deputy Speaker. If the rebel MLAs were to defy this whip and avoid being disqualified, they would have to be 37 in number on the day of the voting or merge with the BJP or float a new political party, for which permission would be required to be sought from the Election Commission,'' said Naik. Rahul Chitnis, a counsel appearing on behalf of the State Government, informed the court that adequate steps have been taken and will be taken to protect the 39 dissident Sena MLAs and their families. "With this assurance by the State Government, which includes all three parties from MVA, it would be safe to assume that the 39 MLAs who are camping out of State can or may return to Mumbai,'' said Naik.
NEW DELHI: In a serious setback to the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government in Maharashtra, the Supreme Court on Monday protected rebel Sena MLAs from disqualification proceedings till July 12, directed the ruling coalition to ensure their safety in Maharashtra and, importantly, refused the Sena-NCP-Congress coalition's request to stop the Eknathrao S Shinde-led rebels from demanding a floor test in the assembly. Shinde tweeted on the SC order, "This is the victory of Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe's thoughts." हा वंदनीय हिंदुहृदयसम्राट शिवसेनाप्रमुख बाळासाहेब ठाकरे यांच्या हिंदुत्वाचा आणि धर्मवीर आनंद दिघे साहेबांच्या विचा… https://t.co/FPRiQJL8ux— Eknath Shinde - एकनाथ शिंदे (@mieknathshinde) 1656329992000A string of senior advocates - A M Singhvi, Rajeev Dhavan and Devadatt Kamat - made strenuous attempts on behalf of MVA and the deputy speaker to persuade a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala not to interfere in the disqualification proceedings against 15 of the 39 rebel Sena MLAs supporting Shinde, saying it fell in the exclusive domain of the speaker. When the effort did not work, Kamat tried to stop the likely effort to bring out CM Thackeray's diminished support by requesting that if the disqualification proceedings, which were to commence after the end of deadline for the 15 rebel MLAs at 5.30pm on Monday to present themselves before the deputy speaker, are being deferred, then the status quo as of Monday be maintained and there should be no demand from the rebels for a floor test. MVA govt trying to avoid floor test: Shinde's lawyerShinde's counsel Neeraj Kishan Kaul promptly said "now the cat is out of the bag" and that the minority MVA government wants to avoid a floor test. The bench told Kamat that passing a restraint order on a floor test would give rise to unnecessary complications but told him the MVA was free to move court if any illegalities were committed. Kaul argued that as per a Constitution bench judgment of the SC in Nabam Rebia case, a speaker or deputy speaker facing motion of removal is prohibited from initiating disqualification proceedings against any MLA. He said the rebel MLAs had given notice on June 21 seeking removal of deputy speaker (Narhari Zirwal of NCP). Disqualification proceedings initiated against the rebel Sena MLAs is a counter manoeuver, he alleged. Kaul's argument found favour with the Supreme Court vacation bench headed by Justice Kant and submissions of Singhvi, Dhavan and Kamat failed to counter it. The bench asked Dhavan whether the deputy speaker would defer disqualification proceedings against the rebel MLAs till notice for his removal is decided by the House. But Dhavan insisted the rebel MLAs must present themselves before the deputy speaker on Monday itself to respond to disqualification notices. This made the bench pass the interim order deferring disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law.
Mumbai Building Collapsed: 7 people have been rescued from the rubble of the building.Mumbai: A four-storey building collapsed in Naik Nagar of Maharashtra's Mumbai on Monday late night, informed the civil body official adding that the rescue operation is on.The fire brigade and police team reached the spot to rescue the trapped people from the debris."A 4-storey building collapses in Naik Nagar. Fire brigade team, and police at the spot as the rescue operation continues," Pravina Morajkar, Corporator told media persons here.According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), seven people have been rescued from under the debris and are now in stable condition."Seven people rescued from under debris are in stable condition; 20 to 25 are likely to be trapped under the debris. Rescue operation on," the Corporator added.In another incident, a man died and 19 people were injured after a multi-storey building collapsed at Shastri Nagar in Maharashtra's Bandra West a few days ago.The man has been identified as Shahnawaz Alam, a 40-year-old man.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com"The building collapsed around 12.15 am. One person has died and 19 are hospitalised and are now safe. All of them are labourers from Bihar. The fire brigade and officers are present at the spot," Manjunath Singe, DCP Mumbai Police told media persons.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
The political crisis in Maharashtra has given rise to the question whether the Shiv Sena rebels can avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law.Law and exceptionUnder the anti-defection law, a member of a legislature can be disqualified if he or she has voluntarily given up membership of their political party; and if he/she votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by their party (or by any person or authority authorised by the party).There is a provision to protect such legislators from disqualification. If two-thirds of the members agree to a merger with another party, they will not be disqualified. Under the 91st Amendment to the Constitution in 2003, the exemption from disqualification if one-third of the members form a separate group (the rule prior to the amendment) was removed.How courts have ruledIn February this year, the High Court of Bombay at Goa held that 10 Congress MLAs and two two MGP MLAs, who had defected to the BJP in 2019, are exempted from disqualification and held that a merger of this group of Congress MLAs is “deemed to be a merger” of the original political party with the BJP (Girish Chodankar v Speaker, Goa Legislative Assembly).In Rajendra Singh Rana v Swami Prasad Maurya (2007), a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court interpreted the term “voluntarily giving up membership of a political party”, and held that “a person may be said to have voluntarily given up membership of an original party even though he or she has not tendered resignation from membership of the party” and that an inference can be drawn from conduct of the member.The two-thirds ruleSome experts believe that even if two-thirds of legislators have broken away, they will be protected from disqualification only if they merge with another party or become a separate group in the legislature.Senior advocate Devdatt Kamat, representing Shiv Sena, said that until the MLAs rebel camp merges with another party, disqualification under the anti-defection law will still apply to them. He said there are court judgements including in the Ravi Naik case (1994) in the Supreme Court which held this view.Senior advocate Shrihari Aney, a former Advocate General of Maharashtra, said there are debatable positions about the anti-defection law. “Various courts have passed verdicts as per specific facts of the case and I am of the view that the Eknath Shinde faction has already crossed the two-thirds mark and thus they cannot be subjected under this law and they are protected from the anti-defection law. They are entitled to be identified as a separate group or a ‘gat’ in the house and to participate in the proceedings.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxDisqualification noticesAnother issue that has arisen is whether the disqualification notices served on 16 rebel MLAs can stand the scrutiny of law. Experts said that as per the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on grounds of Defection) Rules and other stipulations, the Deputy Speaker’s decision cannot be upheld.Aney said, “In my opinion, the notices disqualifying some MLAs are void ab initio. The orders are premised on the ground that these MLAs did not attend the official meeting and did not adhere to the whip. But, a whip is limited only to the business of the legislature… Here it was for a meeting called by their president Uddhav Thackeray.”