The Economic Times | 1 week ago | 21-06-2022 | 10:24 pm
(This story originally appeared in on Jun 21, 2022)In a major setback for the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi, Maharashtra minister Eknath Shinde and 10 other Shiv Sena MLAs are camping at a hotel in Gujarat's Surat.The political turmoil in the state comes after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged five seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena won two each while Congress was able to clinch one seat out of the total 10 seats in Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) that went to polls on Monday.The turmoil in Maharashtra over cross-voting in the legislative assembly in favor of the BJP by ruling party MLAs is believed to be the reason behind the MLAs suddenly gone missing from Mumbai and reaching Surat.Here are the top developments:Uddhav calls Cabinet meeting tomorrow at 1 pmMaharashtra CM has called a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday at 1 pm .Maharashtra CM speaks to Eknath ShindeMaharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has spoken to rebel party MLA Eknath Shinde. The talks reportedly took place for about 10 minutes.Siv Sena MLAs kidnapped, says Sanjay RautShiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut has alleged that several party MLAs have contacted the party leaders and said that they were kidnapped and kept at the Gujarat hotel.Maharashtra CM calls meeting of MLAsUddhav Thackeray has called a meeting of party MLAs at 7pm amid political crisis in MVA. NCP leader Sharad Pawar is also likely to attend the meeting.MVA government stable say Congress leadersOur government is rock solid in Maharashtra, all Congress MLAs, and our alliance is firm. As far as Shiv Sena is concerned, their chief Uddhav Thackery will successfully bring a solution, says Congress's Deepender Hooda on Shiv Sena MLAs and Eknath Shinde currently unreachable.Congress leader Sachin Pilot has said, "I think the government is stable in Maharashtra, nothing to worry. Maharashtra govt will complete its full course."Sena removes Eknath Shinde as its Legislative party leaderShiv Sena on Tuesday removed Eknath Shinde as its Legislative party leader after reports of him and 10 other MLAs camping in Gujarat.Sewri MLA Ajay Chaudhary will replace Eknath Shinde as the new Shiv Sena Legislative party leader.'We will never abandon teachings of Bal Thackeray for power'Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde, who is camping in Surat with a few MLAs of his party, on Tuesday said he will never "cheat for power" and abandon the teachings of Bal Thackeray."We are staunch Shiv Sainiks of Balasaheb who gave us lessons on Hindutva. We will never cheat for power and will never abandon the teachings of Balasaheb and Anand Dighe for power," Shinde tweeted in Marathi, his first reaction on the ongoing political crisis triggered by him in the state.No rift in MVA, BJP has tried in past and failed, says PawarNCP chief Sharad Pawar said that there is an attempt to pull down the Maharashtra government which is happening for the third time dismissing rumours of a rift within the MVA government.Pawar, who played a crucial role in the formation of the MVA government, said it will complete its full five-year term and ruled out going with the BJP, in case the state government falls.While talking to the media on the crisis in the state, he said that Eknath Shinde never told them about his CM ambitions and assured that Uddhav Thackeray will handle the situation."It is an internal matter of Shiv Sena, they will inform us after assessing situation," Pawar added.When asked if the NCP will join BJP if the government in Maharashtra falls short, Sharad Pawar said that there is no question of going with the BJP.No role in political developments: Maha BJP chiefMaharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said his party has got nothing to do with political developments in the ruling Shiv Sena, whose minister Eknath Shinde has gone incommunicado along with some MLAs.But, Patil also said if the BJP receives any proposal from Eknath Shinde to form government, they would "definitely consider it".People fed up of MVA govt: Union minister DanveThe political environment in Maharashtra is now clear after the Legislative Council elections and people are fed up with the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Union Minister Raosaheb Danve said.The BJP leader claimed that there was no control among MVA constituents — the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress, and there was complete negligence towards problems of the people."It has become evident from the Legislative Council polls that the votes of the MVA constituents were divided and the Independents have supported us (BJP). The BJP's fifth candidate won, while the Congress' candidate was defeated by the other two parties (Sena and NCP)," Danve said.List of MLAs believed to be supporting #EknathShinde #ShivSena #Maharashtra https://t.co/kOTDjXtq1h— TOI Mumbai (@TOIMumbai) 1655791825000Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde goes incommunicadoAt least 11 Shiv Sena MLAs are camping in a luxury hotel in Gujarat's Surat district. The MLAs are led by senior Shiv Sena leader and urban development minister in the Maharashtra government Eknath Shinde.Meanwhile, a heavy police deployment has been done at the luxury hotel at Magdalla Crossroads in Surat where the MLAs are camping. The movement of unauthorised persons has been restricted.Sources close to the development in Gujarat BJP informed that Shinde and other rebel leaders were in touch with Gujarat BJP chief C R Patil. After reaching Surat the group of MLAs claimed to have met Patil."I am in Gandhinagar. I came to know that the MLAs have come to Surat," said Patil, he refused to further comment on the issue at the moment.Sources said reports were doing the rounds since Monday evening that Shinde along with 21 MLAs had gone "missing".Uddhav Thackeray holds emergency meetingMaharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray met top Sena MLAs on Tuesday after suspected cross-voting in Maharashtra MLC polls.According to sources, all MLAs have been strictly asked to remain present in the meeting. Meanwhile, Eknath Shinde will be addressing a press conference in Surat today noon.A meeting was underway on Tuesday between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena top leaders and MLAs, even as state minister Eknath Shinde was camping along with some party legislators in Gujarat.The Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA- also comprising the NCP and Congress) suffered a setback on Monday when it lost out of six seats it contested in the Maharashtra Legislative Council polls.On Tuesday, CM Thackeray, who is also the Shiv Sena president, held a meeting where party MLAs Sunil Kadam, Dada Bhuse, Neelam Gorhe, MPs Arvind Sawant and Vinayak Raut, MLC Manisha Kayande and other leaders were present.How numbers stack up in Maharashtra assemblyIn the House of 288, one seat is vacant because of the death of Shiv Sena legislator Ramesh Latke.Meanwhile, two NCP MLAs Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik - currently in jail - were denied permission by the courts to vote.Shiv Sena has 55 MLAs, NCP 53, Congress 44 , BJP 106, Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA) three, Samajwadi party, AIMIM and Prahar Janshakti party two each, MNS, CPI(M), PWP, Swabhimani Party, Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, Jansurajya Shakti party, Krantikari Shetkari Party one each, and there are 13 independent legislators.Here's a look at the numbers: The majority mark to form the government is 144.TNN'Shinde not in Mumbai, but communication established with him'Maharashtra minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde is not in Mumbai, but a communication has been established with him, party MP Sanjay Raut said on Tuesday.Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Raut said it is a fact that contact with some MLAs could not be established on Monday night after the Legislative Council polls, but the party has been able to reach out to some of them now."Eknath Shinde is not Mumbai, but communication has been established with him," Raut said.Meanwhile, Raut said "BJP's Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan pattern" to topple the MVA government will not succeed."Once we reach out to the missing MLAs, they will be back. Shinde is a trusted Shiv Sainik. The Shiv Sena is a party of loyalists and not those who fall to the lust of power and positions," he said.
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.
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.
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
◾ 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.
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.