The ‘Real’ Shiv Sena: How Maharashtra Speaker’s verdict is a big win for Eknath Shinde

Source: Firstpost | Title: The \’Real\’ Shiv Sena: How Maharashtra Speaker’s verdict is a big win for Eknath Shinde

Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena is in a celebratory mood after Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar declared the faction was the real Shiv Sena. He was announcing his verdict on the 34 disqualification pleas filed by the two rival Shiv Sena factions against each other.

In a major setback for Uddhav Thackeray, the speaker said the former Maharashtra chief minister had no power to remove Eknath Shinde as the leader of the legislature party in June 2022.

The decision gains significance as it comes just months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and Maharashtra Assembly elections. Let’s take a closer look at what the Assembly Speaker said in his order and what will Uddhav Thackeray do now.

Shiv Sena MLAs’ disqualification verdict

Narwekar held that the Shinde faction was the real Shiv Sena political party when rival factions emerged in 2022. Eknath Shinde and a group of Shiv Sena MLAs had rebelled in June 2022, splitting the party into two factions and toppling the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.

“Shinde faction had an overwhelming majority of 37 of 55 MLAs when rival factions emerged. I hold that the Shinde faction was a real political party when rival factions emerged on June 21, 2022,” the speaker said.

Narwekar said he referred to the “relevant” constitution of Shiv Sena and the leadership structure while making a decision. He ruled that the Shiv Sena constitution of 1999 given by Chief Minister Shinde was valid.

“I am not inclined to accept submission of UBT (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) faction that will of the majority of leaders in 2018 leadership structure is synonymous with the will of party… I hold that the 2018 leadership structure does not provide any reliable answer to the question that which faction is the real political party and is not a yardstick to determine the same,” he was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

Narwekar said that Sunil Prabhu of the Uddhav faction ceased to be the whip of the party after the rival group emerged. He ruled that Bharatshet Gogawale was “validly appointed” as the whip of the Shiv Sena Party, adding that Shinde’s appointment as leader of the party was also valid.

He said that party leadership cannot use provisions of the 10th schedule of the Constitution to stifle dissent among a large number of its members.

shiv sena vs shiv sena
Eknath Shinde’s revolt toppled Uddhav Thackeray’s MVA government in June 2022. PTI File Photo

The speaker also rejected the disqualification pleas against 16 Shinde Sena MLAs for going incommunicado and not attending a party meeting convened by Prabhu on 21 June 2022. Narwekar also dismissed the disqualification petitions against Uddhav camp MLAs by Shinde Sena, reported NDTV.

“Submissions by Shinde faction that legislators from UBT factions were liable to be disqualified cannot be accepted on the grounds that it is mere allegation and assertion that they had voluntarily given up membership of party. No material was given to substantiate. Though the petitions tried to show that whip was served on respondent, the petitioner has failed to prove the service. There are major inconsistencies in the answer of the service of whip. Thus, the submission for disqualification of UBT members also cannot be accepted,” Indian Express quoted him as saying.

Big win for Eknath Shinde

The verdict is a shot in the arm for Eknath Shinde ahead of the elections this year. The Maharashtra CM has maintained his government was formed in “a perfectly legitimate manner”. He said recently: “I took the stand with honesty and with the intention of saving the party”, referring to his 2022 revolt.

After the ruling on Wednesday, CM Shinde said that “majority is important” in democracy, which his party has.

Maharashtra Minister and Shinde Sena leader Deepak Kesarkar said the speaker’s decision will “strengthen” democracy. “The decision highlights that there should be democracy in the party and just one person cannot use all the rights of the entire party, without holding discussions with other members of the party,” PTI quoted him as saying.

The verdict is a big boost for the Shinde-led Maharashtra government. It could also set a precedent for the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) crisis as speaker Narwekar will be announcing his judgement in the disqualification petitions filed by Sharad Pawar group and Ajit Pawar-led camp against each other’s MLAs by the end of January.

What next for Uddhav camp?

The Maharashtra Assembly Speaker’s verdict has been widely criticised by the Opposition MVA alliance. Shiv Sena (UBT) has said it would approach the Supreme Court against Narwekar’s order. Decrying the verdict, Thackeray accused the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker of “murdering” democracy. “We request the Supreme Court to clear this matter before elections. We want to stress that the Shiv Sena will not end. People will not accept Shinde’s Sena. The order was pre-decided and it was clear when the Speaker and CM met,” Indian Express quoted him as saying.

Shiv Sena (UBT faction) leader Sanjay Raut alleged the speaker got the order from Delhi, which he pronounced here. “Today’s Shiv Sena ‘owner’ Shinde wasn’t even born when the party was established. It is BJP’s conspiracy to destroy Shiv Sena, but our party won’t go down with one order of yours; we will move the Supreme Court against the order,” he told reporters.

Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole termed Narwekar’s judgement “unconstitutional” and “undemocratic”, reported ANI.

Jitendra Awhad from Sharad Pawar’s NCP faction said Narwekar has “brought down the dignity” of the speaker’s post.

The legal battle over the Sena vs Sena tussle will continue. Thackeray camp filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Tuesday objecting to a Sunday meeting between Shinde and Narwekar before the crucial verdict.

Shiv Sena (UBT), which has garnered sympathy among the public following the split, will possibly attempt to bank on the sentiment before the elections.

With inputs from agencies

Read More | Source: Firstpost

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