Mumbai: The power tussle between Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Shiv Sena dissident Eknath Shinde intensified on Sunday when Maharashtra Cabinet Minister for Higher and Technical Education Uday Samant joined Eknath Shinde faction at Guwahati.
“Uday Samant, Maharashtra Minister of Higher and Technical Education joined Eknath Shinde faction at Guwahati. He is the 8th minister to join the Shinde camp,” sources earlier said today.
Amid the political crisis in Maharashtra triggered by a rebellion by a large section of Shiv Sena MLAs, who are currently camping in Assam, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant on Sunday informed that the party has initiated legal action and served notices to concerned MLAs.
Addressing the reporters today, Sawant said, “Political turbulence is going on in Maharashtra, many MLAs defected and have gone to Assam. We have initiated legal action against them and notice has been served to 16 MLAs till now.”
Advocate Devdutta Kamat, Shiv Sena’s Senior Counsel also said to reporters, “Proceedings have been initiated by Shiv Sena against 16 MLAs, under the provision in the Constitution which says that if a person gives up the membership of a party then he’s eligible for disqualification.”
“There were several meetings that were called by Shiv Sena at different times, none of which were attended by them. Visiting BJP-ruled states, meeting BJP leaders, and attempting to topple government amounts to a violation by rebels,” Advocate Devdutta Kamat said.
Kamat said the concept of 2-3rd (to surpass anti-defection law) applies only if there is a merger. “Until the MLAs, don’t merge with another party, disqualification applies. Till today there’s no merger, they have voluntarily given up membership,” Adv Devdutta Kamat said.
Notably, the national executive meeting of the Shiv Sena on June 25 passed six resolutions giving absolute rights to Maharashtra Chief Minister and party president Uddhav Thackeray to take action against the rebels to bring the revolt within party under control. The meeting was called in the wake of Sena MLA Eknath Shinde’s rebellion, which has not only destabilised the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government in the State but also poses a risk of the Thackerays losing control of the party.
The advocate said that under the constitution, the deputy speaker has the power of the speaker in the latter’s absence and can adjudicate on such matters. “No confidence motion was sent through an unauthorized email address by rebels,” he said.
Meanwhile, two MLAs on June 26 called for the removal of the Maharashtra Deputy Speaker, who could be the key decision-maker about the disqualification of the rebel MLAs. Mahesh Baldi and Vinod Agarwal, both independent MLAs and said to be close to the BJP, have moved for the removal of Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal, who is from Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Independent MLA Mahesh Baldi from Uran assembly constituency reached Vidhan Bhavan today and submitted a letter to the office Deputy speaker saying that he cannot disqualify the 12 MLAs.
In his letter, he has cited several judgements of the Supreme Court. “The entire Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government doesn’t have the majority and they can’t disqualify any MLA. I am against Congress and NCP and if the MLAs are disqualified, we will also go to the Court,” he said.
Notably, the Maharashtra assembly doesn’t have a Speaker since February 2021.
Also, the Deputy Speaker also approved the appointment of Ajay Chaudhary as leader of the ruling party Shiv Sena in the assembly in place of Eknath Shinde. Eknath Shinde has called the appointment illegal as Chaudhary’s name was proposed by the “minority faction” as he represents the “real Sena”.
Shinde, who has been replaced by Ajay Chaudhary as Shiv Sena’s legislature party leader on Friday, is currently camping with over 40 rebel MLAs in Guwahati.
In a jolt to the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, senior Shiv Sena Minister Eknath Shinde and other rebel MLAs revolted against the party on June 20 and camped in Surat. The rebel MLAs have shifted base to a hotel in Guwahati.
On Friday, in his virtual address to the party’s district unit chiefs and ‘sampark pramukhs’, CM Uddhav Thackeray said “despite the rebellions that the party has faced earlier, it came to power twice. I may have left ‘Varsha’, the Chief Minister’s official residence, but not my determination”.
Meanwhile, party MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday said the Sena is ready to quit the MVA government if the group of rebel legislators camping in Assam returns to Mumbai in 24 hours and discusses the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
“You say you are real Shiv Sainiks and will not quit the party. We are ready to consider your demand provided you come back to Mumbai in 24 hours and discuss the issue with CM Uddhav Thackeray. Your demand will be considered positively. Don’t write letters on Twitter and WhatsApp,” Raut told reporters.