Battle for Maharashtra reaches Raj Bhavan and House: Uddhav, Shinde stake claim to ‘real’ Sena

battle for maharashtra reaches raj bhavan and house: uddhav, shinde stake claim to ‘real’ sena
© Provided by The Indian Express

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, battling to save the ruling MVA and regain control of the Shiv Sena, and rebel leader Eknath Shinde, who now has the support of majority MLAs of the party, took their battle to the state legislature secretariat in Vidhan Bhavan and the Raj Bhavan Friday, each claiming his faction was the “real” Shiv Sena.

In the evening, NCP chief Sharad Pawar held a lengthy meeting with Uddhav at Matoshree, the Thackeray family home. Details of the discussion were not made public.

Sources in the NCP, however, said, “We are not very hopeful about the continuation of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. With 40-plus members of the Shiv Sena crossing over to the camp of rebel Eknath Shinde, our (MVA) numbers have come down drastically. Proving majority on the floor of the House seems difficult.”

Later, Uddhav, in an address to Sena MPs, said the rebel MLAs “will have to merge with the BJP and their drama will not last long”. He said the Sena was prepared for the civic body elections. He has called a meeting of the Sena national executive at the Sena Bhavan Saturday and is expected to address it via virtual mode.

Earlier in the day, while the Uddhav faction sought the disqualification of 16 party MLAs — 4 more joined the rebel camp Friday — including Shinde, the rebels hit back, questioning the right of Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, who is from the NCP, to continue in office.

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Independent MLAs Mahesh Baldi (Uran) and Vinod Santosh Agrawal (Gondia) wrote a letter to Zirwal, asking him not to take any action against rebels who are camping in Guwahati. They said any action by the Deputy Speaker against the rebel MLAs would amount to violation of constitutional norms since a resolution for his own removal is pending.

Also Read |Sena & youth wing focus on cadre to keep party intact, CM holds marathon meetings

Meanwhile, BJP’s Pravin Darekar, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, wrote a letter to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, saying “in the last 48 hours, Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders have passed 160 resolutions. They are ad hoc clearing the files which is unethical. The CM has already expressed his willingness to resign following the rebellion within the Sena which has brought the government into a minority.”

An official at Raj Bhavan said, “Until now, we have received just two letters. One letter was from Eknath Shinde on Thursday in which it was conveyed that they had passed a resolution making Shinde the group leader and appointing Bharat Gogawale as chief whip. On Friday, we received a letter from Opposition leader in the state Council Pravin Darekar who raised objections over clearing of files and resolutions by leaders of the MVA government. There is no letter from the ruling parties including Shiv Sena or the CM.”

In their letter to Zirwal, MLAs Baldi and Agrawal said, “We state that a notice to move a resolution for removal of Narhari Zirwal as Deputy Speaker of the state Legislative Assembly, under Article 179 of the Constitution of India… read with Rule 11 of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules, has already been submitted, a copy of which has already been submitted to you.”

Referring to the Supreme Court ruling in 2016 on Nabam Rebia & Bamang Felix v. Deputy Speaker, Arunachal Legislative Assembly, they said, “The constitutional purpose and constitutional harmony would be maintained and preserved if a Speaker refrains from adjudication of a petition for disqualification under the Tenth Schedule whilst his own position as the Speaker is under challenge.”

According to the MLAs, a member whose disqualification has been sought shall have seven days or more to submit a reply to the disqualification petition. “Looking at the political situation in Maharashtra, we apprehend that the prescribed seven days may be given a go-by and orders on the disqualification petitions may be passed in haste,” they said.


The Bommai reminder

The demonstration of strength will ultimately have to be on the floor of the House. This was made clear by the SC in its 1994 ruling in the SR Bommai case. It ruled that the majority should be tested on the floor of the House, not Raj Bhavan.

“We therefore state that the Dy Speaker is under constitutional prohibition as interpreted and held by the SC of India to decide disqualification petitions whilst a motion for his own removal is pending. We further state that any action taken by the Dy Speaker shall amount to contempt of the SC,” they said.

Meanwhile, Shinde said he has the support of more than 40 MLAs and has already crossed the required figure of 37 (out of 55 Sena MLAs) to enable him to lead the party. He stepped out of the Guwahati hotel and offered prayers at the Kamakhya temple there.

One of the rebel MLAs said, “Our numbers are intact. We are meeting regularly. All is well here. Once technical glitches are resolved, we will unveil our next plan of action.”

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