In yet another setback for the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction in Maharashtra, Assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar pronounced Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena as the ‘real political party’, concluding the months long wait.
Narwekar did not disqualify any MLA from the two camps– Uddhav Thackeray and Eknath Shinde faction–ensuing a verdict that is likely to add another chapter in the Shiva Sena legacy war.
The ruling that came after the 105-minute-long speech by Speaker Narwekar sealed Eknath Shinde’s place as a “Shiv Sena Chief” and as the Maharashtra Chief Minister, almost 18 months after he rebelled against Uddhav Thackeray, leading to the downfall of the then Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government
Narwekar also rejected the Uddhav Thackeray faction’s petition to disqualify 16 MLAs of the ruling group, including Shinde.
Narwekar said no party leadership can use provisions of 10th schedule of Constitution (anti-defection law) for dissent or indiscipline within a party.
In his order on disqualification petitions filed by Shinde-led Sena and the rival faction of Thackeray against each other’s MLAs, Narwekar said Sunil Prabhu of the Sena (UBT) ceased to be the whip from June 21, 2022, (when the party split) and legislator Bharat Gogawale of the Shinde group became the authorised whip
Notably, the Election Commission gave the ‘Shiv Sena’ name and ‘bow and arrow’ symbol to the Shinde-led faction in early 2023.
The ruling also holds significance as it cements CM Shinde’s political heft in the ruling coalition which also consists of the BJP and the NCP (Ajit Pawar group) ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in summer and assembly elections in Maharashtra due in the second half of 2024.
Shiv Sena (UBT)’s leaders Uddhav Thackeray, Sanjay Raut, and Aaditya Thackeray said their party will approach Supreme Court against the Speaker’s order.
Reacting to the ruling , Shinde said a party chief’s individual opinion cannot be the viewpoint of the entire organisation. He said the order sends out a clear message that no party is a “private limited property”, and it is also against autocracy and dynasty politics.
Allies of the Shiv Sena (UBT) rallied behind the beleaguered party. Narwekar’s verdict was “not at all surprising”, but it should be challenged in the Supreme Court by the rival group led by Thackeray, NCP founder Sharad Pawar said in Pune.
In adjoining Thane, the political turf of Shinde, his supporters celebrated the verdict. They assembled at the Anand Ashram, the local party headquarters, and paid rich tributes to Shiv Sena stalwart the late Anand Dighe.