Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Maha: As rebellion in ruling Sena triggers political crisis, floor test back in focus

The approval by Maharashtra Assembly Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal to appoint Ajay Choudhary as the Shiv Sena’s group leader in the House in place of rebel leader Eknath Shinde may expedite the need for the ruling coalition to prove its majority through a floor test, feels a constitutional expert.
Talking to PTI, former Maharashtra advocate general Shrihari Aney said the group of rebel MLAs led by Shinde can assert that it doesn’t support the present Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government (comprising the Sena, NCP and Congress), and that the dispensation has lost majority, which will result in a no confidence motion.
“The decision of the Assembly Deputy Speaker to approve the appointment of Choudhary as the Shiv Sena group leader in the House replacing Shinde may have a precipatory effect by hastening the process of a vote of no confidence,” he said.
The Sena-led MVA government is likely to state that it has numbers to prove its majority and call for a trust vote, he said.
Aney said the process of a floor test will begin once it is completely established that the rebel group has the necessary numbers.
‘’Once it is established, it will indicate that the MVA has lost majority. The rebel group along with the BJP may stake claim to form the government, following which the governor will ask for a floor test,’’ he said.
He said the question of who the real Shiv Sena is and who the claimant of the bow and arrow symbol is cannot be decided by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
‘’The commission just registers a political party and allots a symbol,” Aney said.
Shinde has asserted that he heads the real Shiv Sena and is set to apply for staking claim for the party symbol. This will be opposed by the Uddhav Thackeray faction, he added.
He said the 2/3rd split in a political party, to avoid disqualification of MLAs, should happen in the legislature party and not the original party since membership there runs into lakhs and difficult to ascertain a vertical split.
The Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA, has 55 MLAs, followed by allies NCP (53) and the Congress (44) in the 288-assembly where the current simple majority mark is 144.
The BJP has 106 MLAs of its own and is backed by one lawmaker each from the Raj Thackeray-led MNS, the Swabhimani Paksh, the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, the Jan Surajya Party and six independents, taking its tally with allies to 116.
The Shiv Sena on Tuesday removed Shinde as the party’s group leader in the Assembly and appointed Choudhary in his place hours after Shinde went incommunicado and travelled to Surat with a group of party MLAs loyal to him. Shinde is currently camping in Guwahati city of Assam with a section of Sena MLAs and independent legislators. He said he has 46 MLAs supporting him.

Would be surprised if Thackeray does U-turn, says Prithviraj Chavan on Raut’s offer to rebel Sena MLAs

Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said on Thursday that he did not think that Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would do an “about-turn” and agree to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs’ demand that the Sena pull out of the ruling MVA alliance.
Chavan was reacting to Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s statement earlier in the day that the Sena was “ready to consider” the demand of the MLAs led by Eknath Shinde that it should end the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance with the NCP and Congress.
“Does Sena want to join hands with the BJP in Maharashtra? The motives of Shiv Sena are not yet clear,” Chavan, a former chief minister, told reporters when asked about Raut’s comment. “I have not heard Uddhav Thackeray sounding like this in his Wednesday evening’s public address. I would be surprised if Uddhav Thackeray does such an about-turn in less than 24 hours. I don’t think that Thackeray would do that,” he said. It was not even clear whether Raut was articulating the Sena’s official stand,” Chavan added.
“There is not even clarity about which faction of the Shiv Sena should be considered as authentic face of the party,” the Congress leader added. Shiv Sena was facing an internal rift and it needed to address it, he said, adding that his party has no say on developments within the Sena. On Wednesday, Thackeray had reached out to rebels with an emotional appeal and offered to quit, saying he will be happy if a Shiv Sainik succeeded him as chief minister.
State NCP president Jayant Patil, meanwhile, said his party had not yet discussed Raut’s comments.
“But we want this government to complete its full term as it has taken some good decisions,” he added.
“Those who leave Sena lose the election later,” Patil, a state minister, added.
On the rebel Sena MLAs’ stand that they did not wish to be part of the MVA because of the “corruption” of NCP and Congress ministers, Patil said the statements of individual legislators should not be treated as the Sena’s official stand.
Praful Patel, another NCP leader, said that party chief Sharad Pawar “formed the MVA and he still wishes that it remains intact.”
NCP leaders, including Sharad Pawar, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and Jayant Patil would be holding a meeting in Mumbai at 5 pm, he informed.

Rebel Sena MLA writes to Maha CM Thackeray; says Shinde went against leadership to secure ‘rights’ of party legislators

Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Sanjay Shirsat has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, claiming that state minister Eknath Shinde took the step of going against the party leadership as Sena MLAs, who faced “humilitation” for the last two-and-a-half years, persuaded him to do so.
While the Shiv Sena legislators had no access to the chief minister, the Congress and NCP, which are the “real opponents” of the Sena, were getting all the attention, he claimed in the letter, dated June 22.
The Sena shares power with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra.
Shirsat, the MLA from Aurangabad (West) Assembly constituency, in the letter claimed that despite the Shiv Sena being in power and having its own chief minister, the coterie around Thackeray never allowed them access to ‘Varsha’, the CM’s official residence.
There was no question of going to ‘Mantralaya’, the state secretariat, because the chief minister never came there, he said.
The letter was posted by Shinde on his Twitter handle, claiming these were the sentiments of the Sena MLAs. Shinde is currently camping with some rebel MLAs in Assam’s Guwahati city, plunging the Sena-led Maharashtra government into a crisis.
In the letter, Shirsat said Eknath Shinde opened doors for the party MLAs to listen to their grievances, issues about development work in their constituencies and related fund, and problems with allies Congress and NCP.
“Only Shinde heard us out and took steps to resolve all the problems. The party MLAs persuaded Shinde to take this step (of revolt) for the rights of all the legislators,” Shirsat said in the letter. While the Shiv Sena legislators had no access to the chief minister, the Congress and NCP, which are the “real opponents” of the Shiv Sena, were getting all the attention, he claimed.
“The Shiv Sena votes did not split in the Rajya Sabha polls, then why so much distrust in us for the Legislative Council polls?” he asked.
The Shiv Sena-led tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in Maharashtra was trumped by the BJP in the Rajya Sabha polls to six seats from the state on June 10, when the Sena’s second candidate, Sanjay Pawar, lost to BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik.
In the MLC polls to 10 seats held on June 20, the MVA again suffered a setback when it lost one out of the six seats it contested. The opposition BJP in the state won all the five seats which it had contested.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night moved out of his official residence ‘Varsha’ in south Mumbai and shifted to Matoshree, the Thackeray family’s private bungalow in suburban Bandra, amid high drama, as the Shiv Sena asserted he will not resign in the wake of rebellion by Shinde.
Referring to the show of strength by Shiv Sainiks at ‘Varsha’ on Wednesday, Shirsat in the letter said, ‘’The doors of Varsha opened for the common people in the real sense yesterday. These doors were closed for us despite being the Shiv Sena MLAs.”
“The cotorie around you never allowed us access to you. Whenever we got a call from ‘Varsha’ that you would like to meet us, we were made to wait for several hours by your cotorie. They never took our calls…why should we be humiliated like this despite being elected by three to four lakh people?” the legislator sought to know.
Shirsat also said the party MLAs were not allowed to accompany Maharashtra cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray (the CM’s son) to Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh during his visit on June 15).
‘’Aren’t Hindutva, Ram Mandir, Ayodhya Shiv Sena’s core issues? Then why we were stopped from accompanying Aaditya Thackeray to Ayodhya?” he asked.
The legislator further said he had checked in his luggage at the airport when he was told that the CM has said no MLA will accompany Aaditya Thackeray (on his Ayodhya visit).
“The Shiv Sainiks at the grassroot would question us as to how our real opponents Congress and NCP get access to you and to the development funds despite the chief minister being ours,” Shirsat said.
“We would have a tough time answering our voters and workers why the Shiv Sena legislators were sidelined despite being in power. In all our tough times, Shinde stood by us, which is the reason we are with him today,’’ he added.

Prithviraj Chavan
Sanjay Shirsat

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