Sena vs Sena: Ahead of verdict, Thackeray chastises Speaker Narwekar’s private visit to CM Shinde

Uddhav Thackeray cast aspersions on the ‘quality’ of Speaker Rahul Narwekar’s justice, remarking what hope was there “when the judge goes to visit the accused”

Updated - January 09, 2024 07:36 pm IST

Published - January 09, 2024 06:25 pm IST - Pune

Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray during a press conference,  in Mumbai, on January 9, 2024.

Shiv Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray during a press conference, in Mumbai, on January 9, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar’s verdict on the disqualification proceedings against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his Shiv Sena MLAs will determine whether democracy was alive or not in this country, said Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on January 9 while criticising Mr. Narwekar’s recent visit to Mr. Shinde.

Ahead of the much-anticipated verdict, Mr. Thackeray further cast aspersions on the ‘quality’ of Mr. Narwekar’s justice, remarking what hope was there “when the judge goes to visit the accused.” Mr. Narwekar is expected to read out the judgement in the Legislative Assembly after 4 p.m. on January 10.

“Since the SC’s direction to the Speaker to give a judgement on the disqualification case, Mr. Narwekar has twice met with CM Shinde in private. It is akin to the Judge meeting the accused. If he is doing that, then there is a serious question on what kind of justice can we expect,” Mr. Thackeray said, alluding to a meeting between Mr. Narwekar and CM Shinde on January 7.

Speaking to reporters at his residence ‘Matoshree’ in Mumbai, he further accused the Speaker of procrastination and expressed apprehension that Mr. Narwekar could even drag the reading of the verdict on January 10 in a bid to seek a further extension in the case.

“The SC had directed the Speaker to give judgement within a reasonable time frame, Mr. Narwekar. It had given December 31 as the last date. But the manner in which the hearing has proceeded smacks of delaying tactics,” said Mr. Thackeray, who was CM of the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government before Mr. Shinde’s revolt had toppled the tripartite MVA in June 2022.

He informed that the Sena (UBT) had submitted an affidavit to the SC on the matter of the Speaker meeting with the CM.

“It is highly improper for the Speaker to meet Eknath Shinde three days before deciding on the disqualification petition. The Speaker is required to act in an impartial manner. However, the present act of the Speaker raises questions about his fairness and impartiality in the decision-making process. The present act of the Speaker is in violation of the legal maxim in that justice should not only be done, it should also be seen,” read the affidavit.

The previous deadline set by the SC for delivering the verdict was December 31, 2023. However, on December 15, the top court gave a 10-day extension and set January 10 as the new date for a decision.

Responding to Mr. Thackeray’s allegations, Mr. Narwekar said they were being made only to “put pressure on the decision-making process” and that his meeting with Mr. Shinde was previously scheduled.

“I have stated this before and will say it again that such statements are being uttered only to put pressure on me… Nowhere is it said that the Speaker cannot do any other tasks when this process [adjudicating on disqualification petitions] was on. There are a number of issues pertaining to the Assembly of which the CM is a member. As an MLA myself, I will have a number of matters related to my Assembly constituency. I do not think I need to explain myself to someone,” a miffed Mr. Narwekar said.

The Speaker, who is a BJP MLA from Colaba in Mumbai, said that his meeting with Mr. Shinde was initially slated for January 3.

“But I was down with influenza at the time and could not leave my home. It was very important to meet the CM on a number of developmental issues in my constituency,” Mr. Narwekar said, remarking that Mr. Thackeray, as a former CM, ought to have known better than making such allegations against him.

The Speaker further stressed that merely meeting the CM did not mean anything as he had met several Thackeray group MLAs and leaders throughout the past year as well for some reason or the other.

“Today morning, I met [Thackeray group MP] Anil Desai and [Sharad Pawar-led NCP faction’s] Jayant Patil in the VIP lounge of Mumbai airport. Was that intentional? Does it mean I am engaging in suspicious behaviour?” he said.

The Speaker further said that he whatever decision he took in the matter would be by strictly adhering to the Constitution and the traditions of the Legislative Assembly.

“I am going to take an extremely legal, sustainable decision by which the people of this state will get justice,” Mr. Narwekar said.

Meanwhile, dismissing Mr. Thackeray’s allegations as “baseless,” Mr. Shinde said the Opposition had no other work else but to indulge in such accusations.

Stating that he expected the verdict to be based “on merit”, Mr. Shinde said that his government had been formed in “a perfectly legitimate manner” and that his party had the majority of the Shiv Sena MLAs and MPs right from the start.

“We have not done anything illegal. Our government was established as per rights given in the Constitution. Right from day one, we [Shinde-led Sena faction] have had majority, whether in the Legislative Assembly or in Parliament. Most of the MLAs and MPs are with our party. In a democracy, majority is essential. Hence, the Election Commission of India (ECI) awarded our party the bow-and-arrow symbol,” he said.

Expressing belief that Mr. Narwekar would give an appropriate judgement, Deputy CM and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that the stability of the present government led by Mr. Shinde would remain unaffected.

“The [Eknath Shinde-led] Shiv Sena’s defence is strong. We have set-up a legal government. I have full hope that we will get justice in the Speaker’s verdict. The Government was stable yesterday and will remain so tomorrow,” said Mr. Fadnavis.  

On May 11 last year, the Supreme Court had ruled that Mr. Shinde will continue to be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra while stating it could not reinstate the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government headed by Mr. Thackeray as the latter chose to resign without facing a floor test in the wake of Shinde’s rebellion.

However, the SC judgment had questioned the then Governor B.S. Koshyari’s action of calling for a floor test in order to solve an intra-party dispute. It also held that the appointment of Bharat Gogawale (of the Shinde faction) as the whip of the Sena was illegal.

In July, Mr. Narwekar had issued notices to 40 MLAs of the Shinde-led Sena and 14 legislators of the Thackeray faction, seeking their replies on disqualification petitions filed against them.

It was only on September 14 that the first hearing on the disqualification petitions finally got under way.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.