Published On: Wed, Jan 10th, 2024

Shiv Sena MLAs’ disqualification: Shinde-led faction real Shiv Sena, rules Speaker Rahul Narwekar

Mumbai: In a big political victory for incumbent Chief Minister of Maharastra, Eknath Shinde, Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar on Wednesday delivered his much-awaited verdict on the disqualification of several Sena MLAs, declaring that the faction led by Shinde as the ”real” Shiv Sena.

Before delivering the verdict, Speaker Narwekar held consultations with senior lawyers

Narwekar, while announcing his verdict on disqualification matters, emphasised that the arguments presented by the Uddhav Thackeray faction lack substance. The Shiv Sena ‘Pramukh’ does not have the power to remove any leader from the party, Narwekar said while announcing his ruling.

He also earlier maintained that the party’s Constitution of 2018 can’t be taken into account. Narwekar added that the Shiv Sena constitution issued by the Election Commission is the authentic document and will henceforth be referred to as the SS Constitution. “The last relevant constitution submitted to ECI before the rival groups emerged in 1999. I hold that the Constitution of the Shiv Sena provided by ECI to the Speaker is the relevant constitution of Shiv Sena to decide which is the political party,” he said.

“There is no consensus on the constitution submitted by both the parties (two factions of Shiv Sena) to the EC. The two parties have different points of view on leadership structure. The only aspect is the majority in the legislature party. I will have to decide the relevant constitution to be taken into account to the leadership structure that existed before the dispute….” Narwekar said while announcing the ruling.

It was the election of the Assembly Speaker, Narwekar, that formed the basis of the disqualification pleas of the two rival sides as they accused each other of defying the party’s whip. Last year, the Supreme Court had entrusted the Speaker to decide the disqualification petitions of the MLAs – 34 in total – from the two rival Sena camps.

Before delivering the verdict, Speaker Narwekar held consultations with senior lawyers, emphasizing that the decision would be based on the law, ensuring justice for all parties involved. Describing it as a benchmark judgment, Narwekar aimed to provide a fair resolution to the ongoing dispute within the Shiv Sena.

Reacting to the Speaker’s ruling Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “I am not surprised at all. We had heard ‘Wahi hota hai j Manzoor-e-khuda’ hota hai’…after 2014 a new tradition has begun, ‘Wahi hota hai Jo Manzoor-e-Narendra Modi aur Amit Shah hota hai’. That is what we see happening in Maharashtra…This is an unfortunate compromise of ethics. Something that was termed ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’ by the Supreme Court is being turned into ‘legal’. This is unfortunate”.

NCP leader Jitendra Awhad took to X post and said: “From whom do you expect a judge… the public will judge”.

Members of the Eknath Shinde-led faction of Shiv Sena were seen celebrating the Speaker’s ruling at the Balasaheb Bhavan in Mumbai.

The roots of the matter trace back to June 2022 when Eknath Shinde and around 40 MLAs rebelled against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, leading to a Shiv Sena split. Resorting to “resort politics,” the rebel MLAs shifted locations, eventually joining hands with the BJP, resulting in the downfall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government.

The power struggle escalated as both factions passed resolutions, each claiming leadership within the Sena. Disqualification petitions were filed against 40 MLAs of the rival camp by the Uddhav Thackeray camp, and in return, the Shinde faction filed petitions against 14 legislators from the Uddhav camp.

Following the split within Shiv Sena, the Shinde faction comprises 40 MLAs and 13 MPs, while the Uddhav faction has 16 MLAs and 6 MPs. The disqualification pleas arose from accusations of both factions defying the party’s whip during the election of the Assembly Speaker, Narwekar.

In February 2023, the Election Commission recognized the Shinde faction as the “real” Sena, allocating the ‘Shiv Sena’ name and ‘bow and arrow’ symbol. The Supreme Court, later on, ruled against restoring the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, stating that Uddhav Thackeray resigned without facing the floor test. Importantly, the Supreme Court last month extended the deadline to January 10 for Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar to decide on the cross-petitions filed by rival factions of the Shiv Sena seeking disqualification of each other’s MLAs.

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