Eknath Shinde moves Supreme Court; Uddhav Thackeray camp says Shiv Sena rebels will be disqualified

Maharashtra government counsel says the rebels can be removed for anti-party activities outside House

June 26, 2022 11:07 pm | Updated June 27, 2022 09:24 am IST - Pune

Maharashtra Minister Uday Samant (second from left) with Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde and other MLAs at a hotel in Guwahati on June 26, 2022.

Maharashtra Minister Uday Samant (second from left) with Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde and other MLAs at a hotel in Guwahati on June 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

The political turmoil in Maharashtra intensified on Sunday, with rebel Shiv Sena MLA and Minister Eknath Shinde moving the Supreme Court against the disqualification notice issued by the Deputy Speaker to him and 15 other legislators.

The party, led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, meanwhile, received another jolt as Maharashtra Technical and Higher Education Minister Uday Samant — a key Sena leader in the Konkan region — joined the rebel camp in Guwahati.

Mr. Shinde now has the support of nine Sena Ministers with Aaditya Thackeray being the only one in the Uddhav Thackeray camp left in the State Assembly. (The other two Thackeray loyalists Anil Parab and Subhash Desai are Legislative Council members)  

The rebel faction also challenged the appointment of Sena MLA from Mumbai Ajay Choudhari as the Legislature Party leader, and the rejection of their no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal.

On the other side, the loyalists of Mr. Thackeray, too, have geared up to take on the rebels with MP Arvind Sawant stating that the party had already initiated legal action to disqualify the 16 rebel MLAs by serving notices to them.

Advocate Devadatt Kamat, counsel for the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi government of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Congress, said that proceedings had been initiated by the Shiv Sena against 16 MLAs under para 2(1) (A) of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

He said there were several examples where even if a member committed anti-party activities outside the House, then he or she was liable to be disqualified.

“There were several meetings called by the Shiv Sena, but none were responded to by the rebel MLAs. Their action of going to another State, writing letters against the MVA government makes them liable for prosecution for anti-party-activities, and thus liable for disqualification,” Mr. Kamat said.

He added that the claims by the rebel MLAs of retaining their posts on the grounds that they had two-thirds of the total of 55 Sena MLAs with them would only apply had they merged their group with another party.

 “Since they have already committed an anti-party act and still there is no merger, they face disqualification,” he said.

Stepping up the offensive against the rebels, Mr. Aaditya Thackeray said the rebels lacked courage. At a rally in Kalina, Mr. Aaditya said, “If they [the rebels] really were staunch Shiv Sainiks, then Mr. Shinde and the others could have staged their rebellion in Thane or somewhere in Maharashtra. Remember, the road from Mumbai airport to Vidhan Bhavan, the State Legislature Complex, goes via Worli [Mr. Aaditya’s constituency],” he warned.

“Even if all Sena MLAs go over to the rebel camp, victory will still be the Shiv Sena’s in the end. True Shiv Sainiks have not left the party. Uddhav Thackeray has not lost his will. He will remain CM for next 25 years,” Mr. Aaditya said.

Taunting the rebels, he remarked that this was the first political revolt where MLAs from the ruling party wanted to sit in the Opposition.

“The BJP-ruled Centre, which ought to have given CRPF security to Kashmiri pandits, is today giving security to these rebel MLAs. Their food bills are amounting ₹8 lakh to ₹9 lakh daily in a State which is afflicted by floods. I feel bad that while flood-hit people of Assam are suffering, you [rebel MLAs] are enjoying there,” he said.

‘Situation is akin to Nazi Germany’

Mr. Aaditya warned that all the rebel MLAs would be disqualified, and added that he “will not rest until he has defeated every single one of them”.

“The entire country is watching this shameful drama... What answer are we going to give to the world? Where is democracy going to? The situation is akin to Nazi Germany,” he said.

Reiterating his support for the Sena under Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, speaking in Delhi, said: “The NCP’s line is clear. We will keep supporting CM Uddhav Thackeray till the end.”

Stating that it was unlikely that President’s rule would be imposed in Maharashtra, Mr. Pawar hit out at the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.

 “It is strange that if they indeed have the numbers, then why are they sitting in Guwahati and not forming the government. They (the rebels) never had any problem with the NCP in the last two-and-a-half years when the MVA was running fine… Their alleged resentment against the NCP is merely an excuse to justify the revolt, Mr. Pawar said, adding that the rebellion would not have much effect on the Shiv Sena’s organisation or damage the party as a whole.

Maharashtra Rebel MLAs given security by Home Ministry

In another development, the Union Home Ministry provided Y-plus security cover to the 15 rebel MLAs, with Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel stationed outside their homes. The move comes as strident protests against the MLAs in the Shinde faction continued across the State.

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, too, wrote to the Mumbai Commissioner of Police and the Maharashtra Director-General of Police asking them to provide additional security to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs.

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