Sena vs Sena | Shinde, Fadnavis must quit, says Uddhav after SC verdict; govt.- formation legal: Sena-BJP alliance

Eknath Shinde says Supreme Court’s verdict on a batch of pleas related to last year’s political crisis in the State a ‘slap’ on those who called his government ‘illicit’.

Updated - May 11, 2023 10:34 pm IST

Published - May 11, 2023 10:20 pm IST - Pune/Mumbai

CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis arrive for the press conference after the Supreme Court verdict at Sahyadri Guest House in South Mumbai on Thursday.

CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis arrive for the press conference after the Supreme Court verdict at Sahyadri Guest House in South Mumbai on Thursday. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Thursday termed the Supreme Court’s verdict on a batch of pleas related to last year’s political crisis in the State a “slap” on those who called his government “illicit”, while Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray sought the resignation of Mr. Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis on “moral grounds”.

The petitions had been filed after Mr. Shinde’s rebellion against the undivided Shiv Sena led by Mr. Thackeray, which led to the fall of the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

In a unanimous verdict, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud had ruled that the Governor was not justified in asking Mr. Thackeray, the then Chief Minister, to prove majority in the Assembly.

It, however, said the MVA government could not be restored as Mr. Thackeray had resigned without facing the floor test, and the Governor was right in inviting Mr. Shinde to form the government with the support of the BJP, the largest political party in the Assembly.

‘Ruling reinstates trust’

Soon after the verdict, Mr. Thackeray told reporters at Matoshree, his residence in Bandra, that the ruling “reinstates trust in democracy” and Mr. Shinde and Mr. Fadnavis should resign on moral grounds “if they have any ethics”. “They [Shinde faction] betrayed my party and the legacy of my father [Bal Thackeray]. My resignation as CM may have been legally wrong, but I did it on moral grounds,” he said.

The Sena (UBT) chief said Speaker Rahul Narvekar had to consider Sunil Prabhu as the whip of the party while deciding on the disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs, including Mr. Shinde, as the top court had ruled that the Speaker’s decision to appoint Bharat Gogawale of the Shinde faction as the party whip was “illegal”.

Mr. Thackeray also slammed then Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for asking him to take the floor test. “How was I supposed to run a government with backstabbers?” he said, adding that there should be a provision to take action against Governors even after they leave the State for “misusing” their position.

  Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thakarey) chief, Uddhav Thackeray speaks at Matoshree, in Mumbai on Thursday.

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thakarey) chief, Uddhav Thackeray speaks at Matoshree, in Mumbai on Thursday. | Photo Credit: ANI

‘Victory of truth’

Addressing a joint press conference, Mr. Shinde called the verdict “a victory of truth”, while Mr. Fadnavis said it “cleared all doubts” about the legality of the Shinde-BJP government.

“The court has made it clear that the Speaker has the right to decide on the disqualification petition,” Mr. Fadnavis said, referring to the ruling that the Speaker and the Election Commission of India (ECI) were empowered to concurrently adjudicate on petitions under the 10th Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.

“So, in one way, the court has placed no obstacle in the decision of the ECI to award the Shiv Sena party name and symbol [to the Shinde faction in February this year],” the Deputy Chief Minister said.

Responding to Mr. Thackeray’s demand to quit, Mr. Fadnavis said the Sena (UBT) chief had no right to talk about morality. “The truth is Uddhav Thackeray did not resign as CM on moral grounds, but was afraid of losing the floor test. You [Uddhav] got elected along with the BJP [in the 2019 Assembly election], but went along with the Congress and the NCP… Did you lock up this morality in a box at that time?” he said.

On the court’s remark that the Speaker’s appointment of the Sena whip was “contrary to law”, Mr. Fadnavis said “since the original political party belongs to Mr. Shinde, the whip too will be from his party”.

Defending the former Governor’s role in government-formation, Mr. Shinde said Mr. Koshyari had “acted as per the situation”, while Mr. Fadnavis said the Supreme Court had not “reversed the process”.

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