Ndtv | 3 days ago | 24-06-2022 | 03:22 pm
Eknath Shinde with rebel Shiv Sena MLAs at Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati. (PTI photo)New Delhi: The Shiv Sena today sought disqualification of four more MLAs in its fightback against the rebellion by Eknath Shinde who told NDTV that he has the support of 50 MLAs, including 40 from the party. Here are the latest developments in this big political story:At a party meet, Uddhav Thackeray reportedly told party workers that the rebels were "trying to break" the party and added: "Why would I feel bad about those who have left?" "Without using the names of Shiv Sena and Thackeray, how will you move ahead," Mr Thackeray said, targeting the rebel MLAs who have deserted him.Till now, Sena has sought disqualification of 16 rebels. Uddhav Thackeray's team has alleged that the "delinquent MLAs" are working to create distrust in the party and overthrow the government. The Shiv Sena has accused the MLAs of committing the constitutional "sin" of defection.Mr Shinde, at the centre of rebellion against Mr Thackeray, has claimed backing of more than 50 MLAs. "Nearly 40 of them are from the Shiv Sena," Mr Shinde, who is camping in BJP-ruled Assam, told NDTV in an exclusive interview.Today, Sena MLA Dilip Lande was seen at Guwahati hotel.The number of MLAs in the Eknath Shinde is expected to cross 50 as more legislators are likely to reach Guwahati.Two Independent MLAs, part of Eknath Shinde camp, have called for the removal of Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwall, who is from Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The two MLAs - Mahesh Baldi and Vinod Agarwal - have referred to a Supreme Court order in a case from Arunachal Pradesh and have urged the Deputy Speaker not to adjudicate on the disqualification plea against rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.The Deputy Speaker, meanwhile, has approved Shiv Sena's proposal to appoint MLA Ajay Chaudhary as Shiv Sena legislative party leader in the state Assembly. The Deputy Speaker is expected today to send notices to the rebel MLAs against whom disqualification pleas have been filed, party sources told NDTV.The rebel MLAs are preparing to move Supreme Court once notices are issued to them, sources have told NDTV. The Eknath Shinde camp is also expected to move the Election Commission staking claim for the party and the symbol, sources added.Earlier today, Sanjay Raut, the Sena's spokesperson, alleged that Maharashtra alliance leader Sharad Pawar had been threatened by a Union Minister. "He is the son of Maharashtra. They are threatening him. Modi ji, Amit Shah, have you heard? Your minister is threatening Sharad Pawar - do you support such threats? Maharashtra wants to know," said Mr Raut had said.Mr Raut also played down the show of strength projected by the Eknath Shinde camp. "Their numbers are only on the papers. Shiv Sena is a big ocean such waves come and go," Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.Mr Shinde, who has claimed that his faction is the "real Shiv Sena", has sent letters carrying signatures of 37 MLAs to state Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and the legislature secretary to inform them about his appointment as the legislature party leader. Comments
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.
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.
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.”
With the Supreme Court extending the deadline for them to file a response to disqualification notices, the Shiv Sena’s rebel group led by Eknath Shinde is learnt to be strategising to approach the Governor, informing him of their decision to withdraw support from the MVA, and thereby, prompting a floor test.Highly placed sources said, “The Shinde faction is likely to approach Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari at Raj Bhawan, informing its decision to distance itself from Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.”Claiming to have 50 plus MLAs in its fold, Shinde camp’s decision to step out of MVA would raise a question on the numbers with Uddhav Thackeray led MVA government, which could find it difficult to prove its majority on the floor of the house if the rebel MLAs were to stick together, the sources added.The development has also sparked worries in the Sena with a senior leader pointing out: “While the Apex court has given two weeks’ time to the rebels to respond to disqualification notices served by deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal, our plea for disallowing floor test till July 11 was not considered.”Shinde camp’s confidence stems from its belief that it holds two-third majority in the Shiv Sena. At present, it is claiming support of 39 MLAs out of total 55 MLAs of the Sena. Besides, there are over 10 MLAs from smaller parties/independents with them. Their total support base has risen to over 50, the Shinde camp has claimed.The total strength of the state legislative assembly is 288 members, which has gone down to 287 with the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke last month. The halfway mark to form the government is 144.With Congress’s 44, NCP’s 53 and Sena’s 16 legislators, the aggregate strength of the allies stands at 111 — 33 short of the halfway mark. The number of independents/smaller parties adds up to 29 members, of which around 11 are with Shinde camp. Sources say that even if all the remaining 19 were to align with MVA, the figure still won’t cross 130.“Minus Shinde faction, MVA finds itself confronting the battle for survival in Maharashtra,” the source said.Expressing his happiness after the SC order, Shinde said, “It is a victory for Balasaheb’s Hindutva. We have always maintained that we have not walked out of Sena. Our fight is for the self respect of Sena.”Sources in the Shinde faction said, “A lot of deliberations are underway on the next course of action. We are still fighting for the rights to lead the Sena. With majority members with us, Shinde’s leadership in the party’s legislative assembly cannot be divested. We always wanted Sena to walk away from the Congress and the NCP.”Shinde’s son Shrikant alleged that the disqualification notice to his father and 15 MLAs were sent by the deputy speaker under pressure.Meanwhile, the BJP, which convened its core committee meeting at the residence of opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis on Monday, has decided to adopt “wait and watch” strategy. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil said, “What is happening is an internal matter of Shiv Sena. We are also closely monitoring the developments.”Another senior leader, Sudhir Mungantiwar, said, “Shinde group is still not considering itself separate from Shiv Sena. At the same time, they have the support of a majority of members. So, we need to see how the situation evolves.”
MUMBAI: A week after the revolt began for control of Shiv Sena, Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray on Monday stripped all nine ministers from rebel leader Eknath Shinde's camp of their portfolios. They will remain ministers but without portfolios. By now, of the 14 ministers in the Thackeray-led government, only four including the chief minister, are from Shiv Sena. The others are industries minister Subhash Desai, transport minister Anil Parab and environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. They have all got additional portfolios. Monday's Supreme Court verdict protecting the rebel Sena MLAs from disqualification proceedings till July 12 led to speculation about whether a floor test is imminent. "The government is in a minority. The chief minister should leave the MVA government and join BJP. Then there will be no need for a floor test," rebel MLA Deepak Kesarkar said. Sena's Aaditya Thackeray countered, "The rebels should come here, look into our eyes and tell us what we did wrong. That is our floor test." Congress member Balasaheb Thorat said, "No one has asked for a floor test. The CM has said 20 MLAs who are in Guwahati will back the government in the event of a trust vote." BJP's Sudhir Mungantiwar said the party will "wait and watch" and would consider such a proposal when it came. The cabinet reshuffle was prompted by concerns about work being held up. Also, by the onset of monsoon and the possibility of flooding or accidents, a press statement from Thackeray's office said. Under rule 6 of the rules of business, the chief minister has powers to re-allocate portfolio of a cabinet minister if he is not attending office since he is unwell or is not able to discharge duties. This is done to ensure works of public interest as well as routine work are not affected. Read AlsoEight ways to lose your political partyWhen politicians lose an election, they stand a chance of bouncing back in the next one. But what happens when they lose their party? It was initially decided to sack all nine rebel members, a bureaucrat said. But the Sena leadership dropped the proposal and decided to strip them of their portfolios. Meanwhile, rebel MLA Shamburaje Desai, who lost his junior minister portfolio, said, "We had no rights as junior ministers. The position was only in name. We were not able to get funds for our constituencies." Read AlsoDid Uddhav hear what BJP said about Shinde last summer?The Shiv Sena was casual about numerous signs of discontent brewing in the party. Was it over-confidence or power lulling a party into laziness?Security of Guwahati hotel housing rebel Sena MLAs tightened furtherSecurity inside and outside Radisson Blu hotel in Guwahati, where rebel Shiv Sena MLAs are camping, was upgraded to an impenetrable level on Monday, a day after the Centre provided Y+ category security cover of armed CRPF personnel to at least 15 of them, reports Prabin Kalita. Apart from a few top officers of Assam Police, a group of advocates were the only civilians allowed entry inside the hotel on Monday. In addition, crew members of several airlines that have agreements with the hotel were also allowed inside. Read AlsoWho owns brand Bal Thackeray: Saininks or the Thackerays?The rebel Shiv Sainiks led by Eknath Shinde have decided to call themselves Shiv Sena Balasaheb. This has opened a new front in their battle with Uddhav Thackeray – a brand warThe president of Shiv Sena unit in Manipur, M Tombi Singh, who had come to meet the rebel legislators, was stopped at the gates and then arrested after he was spotted talking to media outside the hotel gates. “I’ve come to talk to Eknath Shinde and tell him not to divide the party. Sena should remain as one party and we want the political crisis to end soon,” he said.