Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena steps up pressure on the rebel Shinde faction; Minister Uday Samant joins rebel camp; Centre steps in to provide Y-Plus security to 15 Sena rebels
Mumbai: The war of nerves between the Shiv Sena led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the Sena rebel camp led by Minister Eknath Shinde intensified on Sunday, with the rebel Shinde group moving the Supreme Court against Uddhav Thackeray’s faction. The young Thackeray scion, Aaditya Thackeray launched a full-scale verbal attack on the rebel Sena MLAs.
Stage for a legal showdown has been set with the rebel Sena faction of Eknath Shinde filing a petition against the Shiv Sena’s move to disqualify 16 rebel MLAs (including Eknath Shinde). The rebel Shinde faction has challenged the appointment of Sena MLA from Mumbai Ajay Choudhari as the Shiv Sena Legislature Party (SSLP) leader. The Sena rebel group has also challenged the rejection of their no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal.
In response, the Uddhav Thackeray camp, too, has geared up to take on the Sena rebels with Shiv Sena Lok Sabha MP Arvind Sawant stating that the party had already initiated legal action to disqualify 16 rebel MLAs by serving notices to them.
Advocate Devadatt Kamat, legal counsel for the Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, said that proceedings had been initiated by the Shiv Sena against 16 MLAs under para 2(1) (A) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
He said there were several examples where even if a member committed anti-party activities outside the House, then he was liable to be disqualified, alluding that the Shinde faction had a tough road ahead.
Advocate Kamat stated, “There were several meetings called by the Shiv Sena, but none were responded to by the rebel MLAs. Their action of going to another state, writing letters against the MVA government makes them liable for prosecution for anti-party-activities, and thus are liable for disqualification.”
He further stated that the rebel Sena MLAs’ claims of retaining their posts on grounds that they had a 2/3rd of the total 55 Sena MLAs with them would only apply had they merged their group with another party. Advocate Kamat remarked, “Since they have already committed an anti-party act and still there is no merger, they face disqualification.”
Meanwhile, as Sena Minister Aaditya Thackeray launched an offensive against rebel Sena MLAs and Centre, the Sena suffered yet another body-blow as Maharashtra Technical and Higher Education Minister Uday Samant, a key Sena leader in the Konkan region joined the Eknath Shinde’s rebel camp in Guwahati.
The rebel Sena camp led by Eknath Shinde now has the support of nine Sena ministers with Aaditya being the only one in the Uddhav Thackeray camp left in the State Assembly. (The other two Thackeray loyalists Anil Parab and Subhash Desai being members of the Legislative Council).
Addressing a rally at Kalina in suburban Santacruz, the youthful Aaditya Thackeray came down heavily upon the rebels, criticising them for their lack of courage in staging this “shameful revolt.”
The Thackeray scion warned, “If they (rebels) really were staunch Shiv Sainiks, then Eknath Shinde and the others could have staged their rebellion in Thane or somewhere in Maharashtra. Remember, the road from Mumbai airport to Vidhan Bhavan, the state legislature complex, goes via Worli (Aaditya’s Assembly constituency).”
Aaditya Thackeray further claimed, “Even if all Sena MLAs go over to the rebel camp, victory will still be the Shiv Sena’s in the end. True Shiv Sainiks have not left the party. Uddhav Thackeray has not lost his will. He will remain CM for the next 25 years.” In a sarcastic jibe aimed at the rebels, he remarked this was the first political revolt where MLAs from the ruling party wanted to sit in the Opposition benches.
He further added, “The BJP-ruled Centre, which ought to have given CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) security to Kashmiri Pandits, is today giving security to these rebel MLAs. Their food bills are amounting ₹ 8-9 lakhs daily in a State (Assam) which is afflicted by floods. I feel bad that while flood-hit people of Assam are suffering, you (rebel MLAs) are enjoying there,” he said.
Aaditya Thackeray further warned that all rebel MLAs will be disqualified, saying “will not rest until he has defeated every single one of them”. He further added, “The entire country is watching this shameful drama… What answer are we going to give to the world? Where is democracy going? The situation is akin to Nazi Germany.”
Reiterating his support for the Sena under Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, while speaking to newspersons in New Delhi, said, “The NCP’s line is clear. We will keep supporting CM Uddhav Thackeray till the end.”
Hitting out at the Sena rebel MLAs, the NCP chief opined that it was unlikely that President’s rule would be imposed in Maharashtra. Pawar added that the rebellion would not have much effect on the Shiv Sena’s organization or damage the party as a whole.
Sharad Pawar sarcastically remarked, “It is strange that if they indeed have the numbers, then why are they sitting in Guwahati and not forming the government. They (the rebels) never had any problem with the NCP in the last two-and-a-half years when the MVA was running fine… Their alleged resentment against the NCP is merely an excuse to justify the revolt.”
In another development, the Centre has granted security to 15 of the rebel MLAs with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) providing Y-plus security cover by stationing Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans outside the homes of the rebel Sena MLAs. The move comes as strident protests by agitated Shiv Sainiks against the MLAs in the Shinde faction continued across the State.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, on Sunday, wrote to the Mumbai commissioner of police and the Maharashtra Director-General of Police asking them to provide additional security to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs with Eknath Shinde.