The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 23-06-2022 | 05:45 am
With his party rebel MLAs not backing down and the numbers clearly not on his side, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, battling to save the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government, left the CM residence for his family home Wednesday evening, shortly after an emotional speech in which he said he is willing to resign if the MLAs and Sainiks tell him to his face that they do not want him to continue.Uddhav was seen leaving Varsha, the official residence of the CM, with wife Rashmi and sons Aaditya and Tejas. He left with personal belongings, and was accompanied by Shiv Sainiks all the way to Matoshree, the Thackeray family home.Earlier, in an address which was more an appeal to the Sena continued after rebel minister Eknath Shinde moved from Surat to Guwahati with his flock, Uddhav, who tested positive for Covid Wednesday, said, “If my own people are saying they do not want me, then shouldn’t they have come before me to say it instead of going to Surat and speaking there? They should have come here and said ‘Uddhavji, you are useless… forget the praise (for work done) during Covid… We don’t want you’. I would have resigned from the post of CM even if one MLA had said this to me.”“If you do not believe this, then I will immediately move to Matoshree from Varsha. I have no greed. I am not going to stick to the chair… I am the son of Balasaheb. But come here, say whatever you have to in front of me,” he said.This was Uddhav’s first public remarks after the revolt in his party. On Wednesday, Eknath Shinde claimed that he now had support of 34 MLAs, 30 of them from the Shiv Sena which has a strength of 55 in the Maharashtra Assembly.Late in the evening, Shinde, in a Twitter post, said, “Over the last two years under the MVA government, only the coalition partners benefitted while the Shiv Sainik was left frustrated. While our allies gained strength the Shiv Sena and Sainiks were deliberately weakened. For ensuring the survival of the party and Sainiks, it is necessary to step out of this unnatural alliance. For the greater good of Maharashtra, it is time to take a decision.”More MLAs are said to be on their way to join the Shinde camp. The revolt, hours after the Legislative Council elections Monday in which the MVA suffered a setback following cross-voting by MLAs, has put a question mark on the future of the coalition.In the House of 288 which is currently at 287 owing to the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke last month, the MVA needs at least 144 MLAs. Before the revolt, its strength in the House was 152 — Sena 55, NCP 53, Congress 44. The BJP strength is 106 while Others account for the remaining 29.Hoping to return to power and not willing to reveal its cards yet, the BJP, party sources said, is waiting for Shinde to rustle up the numbers that he needs to beat the anti-defection law.“More Shiv Sena MLAs are expected to join Shinde by Thursday, and it will no longer be a numbers game. Uddhav will be left with only a handful of MLAs. He has lost his pillar of strength… the shock of this development will make it easier for the BJP.”Once the picture is clear, the BJP hopes to make its move and get Devendra Fadnavis to stake claim with the backing of the Sena rebels, sources said, maintaining that the chain of events so far has been on expected lines.The rebel MLAs made public a resolution, appointing Shinde as leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party, saying “there is enormous discontent” in the party cadre “for forming the government with NCP and Indian National Congress who are ideologically opposed to our party”.The rebel list of 34 MLAs has signatures of 30 Sena MLAs – two MLAs are from the Prahar Janshakti Party and two are independents. More smaller parties are rallying behind Shinde who needs to have the support of 37 party legislators to avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law and form a separate group.The resolution of the rebels stated: “There has been compromise on the principles of our party Shiv Sena, which has been a party with a fierce ideological base, and was formed for fighting for the rights of local Marathi people. For the last two-and-a-half years, our party and its leadership have compromised party principles by aligning with contrasting ideologies for the sake of achieving power in the state of Maharashtra.”“The ideology of our party’s leader, Late Balasaheb Thackeray, was to give a clean and honest government to the people of Maharashtra… without compromising on the principle of Hindutva which was defeated the first day itself by aligning with opposing ideologies,” it stated.The resolution said party members were unhappy about “corruption” in the government and administration regarding police postings and referred to former “Home Minister Anil Deshmukh (who is in jail), and sitting Minority Minister Nawab Malik (also in jail).”“Our party cadre faced tremendous harassment and distress on political as well as personal grounds from the opposition ideological parties, who are now a part of the government, and were using their office and power to undermine the base and foundation of our Shiv Sena cadre,” the resolution stated.It said the Sena decision to sever ties with the BJP in spite of having a pre-poll alliance had a negative impact on the cadre of the party.“There was continuous hue and cry towards the party leadership for the act of aligning with the opposing parties. Ignoring this, the party leadership went ahead and formed a Maha Vikas Aghadi government. For the last two-and-a-half years, we, the Shiv Sena Legislative Party members, were facing tremendous pressure from their electorates/voters,” it stated.The resolution also stated that Bharat Gogavale had been elected and appointed Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena legislature party, and that the appointment of Sunil Prabhu had been cancelled with immediate effect.Earlier in the day, Sunil Prabhu had issued a letter asking all Sena MLAs to be present for a meeting in Mumbai. The letter warned that if anyone remained absent, it would be considered that the MLA had decided to quit the party voluntarily. The meeting did not, however, take place.In Guwahati, Shinde and the rebel MLAs were received at the airport by BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das and MLA Sushanta Borgohain.Speaking to reporters, Shinde said he and those with him were “committed” to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of Hindutva. “We want to take it forward,” he said, “I have 40 Shiv Sena MLAs with me. I cannot comment on anybody.”Borgohain told reporters that he was at the airport to “receive friends”.“Two-three friends called me, so I came to receive them…They have not disclosed what programme they have,” he said.Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters that he was not privy to much information on the developments. “I am busy with flood relief work. Right now I am heading to Kampur (Nagaon)… tomorrow I will head to Silchar,” he said, adding that there were some “legislator friends” and he may meet them for “five to ten minutes”.Sarma said it was “positive” that people were visiting the state despite the floods. “Since we are inundated, all hotel rooms are empty and the state is facing financial difficulties. Now if tourists from across the country come and stay in a hotel, it will only benefit us,” he said.BJP Rajya Sabha MP Pabitra Margherita said “all people” were “welcome” in Assam.The rebel MLAs were taken to a luxury hotel in Guwahati in three buses amid heavy police protection.Sushmita Dev, TMC MP from Silchar which has been submerged in water for the last 72 hours, said the BJP government had its priorities wrong.“There is a crisis in Silchar — there is no drinking water, no electricity, no boats for rescue … people are living on roofs… in the middle of all this, the Chief Minister of Assam is busy poaching MLAs, and putting them up in five-star hotels. This is really bad,” she 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.
A 25-year-old woman who works for a bank was left injured after two motorcycle-borne youngsters pulled her down while snatching her gold chain as she was riding a two-wheeler on the Lahuji Vastad bridge near Patil Estate slums in Shivajinagar, police said.The victim, a resident of Yerwada, lodged the first information report (FIR) in the case at the Khadki police station on Monday.Police said the complainant is a bank staffer who is also pursuing higher studies. She was going to the Navi Peth area via Lahuji Vastad bridge to withdraw some cash on Sunday night when around 10.15 pm, two persons on a motorcycle started following her and pulled her down in a bid to snatch a gold chain from her neck, police said. She fell on the road and received injuries. Meanwhile, the robbers escaped from the spot with the gold chain worth Rs 50,000.Sub inspector Mohan Salvi is investigating the case in which police have booked the two unidentified robbers under sections 394 and 34, which pertain to robbery and common intention, of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
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 48-year-old ‘mantrik’, identified as Abbas Ahmedali Bagwan, who was held in connection with the murders of nine members of a family in Mhaisal town of Sangli district in Maharashtra, has been admitted to a hospital after he complained of chest pain during some procedural medical tests.On the afternoon of June 20 around 1 pm, two brothers Dr Manik Vanmore (49), a veterinarian, and Popat Vanmore (52), an arts teacher, their mother, their respective wives, and four children of the two couples — were found dead in two separate houses located a kilometre apart in Mhaisal.On Sunday, the Sangli Police nabbed Bagwan and his aide, Dheeraj Suravase (30), both residents of Solapur, for allegedly killing the Vanmores by poisoning. The police said the two persons had allegedly claimed they would help the family unearth ‘hidden treasures’ or guptadhan.A statement by the Sangli police mentioned that Survase was produced before a court Tuesday. The court remanded him in police custody till July 7 for further investigation. But Bagwan reported chest pain when he was taken for pre-arrest medical tests. So he was admitted to the Miraj Civil Hospital in Sangli. “He will be arrested soon after being discharged from the hospital,” the Sangli police stated. The police have booked Bagwan and Survase under Sections 302 and 306 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections of the Money Lending Regulation Act.The starting point of the investigation for the police was the two purported suicide notes found at the two houses where the Vanmores used to reside. The notes suggested that the family members died by suicide because of heavy debt. Based on the probe into the content of the suicide notes, the police had initially booked 25 persons, most of whom had lend money to the Vanmores and were allegedly pressurising them for repayment. Of these 25 persons, the police have till now arrested 19 persons.According to special Inspector General of Police (Kolhapur Range) Manojkumar Lohiya, further probe into the case revealed that the deceased Vanmore brothers were in contact with the ‘mantrik’ who claimed he would help them unearth hidden treasures. The two brothers had borrowed large sums of money to pay the ‘mantrik’ over the last couple of years.“The suspect had taken a large sum of money from the family on this pretext and he could have been worried that Vanmores would report him to the authorities. Primary probe suggests that… the mantrik went to the houses and under the pretext of performing some rituals, gave the family members something to consume that was laced with a poisonous substance,” said Lohiya.When asked about the suicide notes and who could have written them, Lohiya said, “The probe still suggests that the notes were written by the two brothers. But what was suspicious about them was the sequence. We have observed in many suicide cases that people first state the reasons and then name the persons responsible. In this case it was exactly the opposite. Also, the notes do not categorically say that they were going to end their lives. It now seems that the brothers were misled into writing those notes. We are still probing that angle.”When asked about the 25 persons booked earlier, Lohiya said, “The case is now taking a different direction. As the probe progresses, we may file an application to discharge these people who are charged with abetment to suicide.” The police are now trying to ascertain how the poisonous substance was administered to the victims in two separate houses.