Mumbai/New Delhi/Guwahati, Jun 27: Moving against rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday took away portfolios of nine ministers who have jumped ship, while the dissident MLAs took their fight to the Supreme Court, which kept in abeyance the disqualification proceedings against them before the Assembly Deputy Speaker till July 11.
A week into the political crisis – which was triggered when Shiv Sena minister Eknath Shinde, who has claimed the support of more than three dozen party MLAs, raised a banner of revolt against the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government– both sides have refused to blink and appear prepared for a long fight.
An official statement said the portfolios of the rebel ministers led by cabinet member Shinde, who are camping in Guwahati, have been handed over to other ministers in the Thackeray-led government for ease of administration.
After the revolt led by Shinde on June 21 which has pushed the state goveremnt to the brink, and Monday’s action by the chief minister, the Shiv Sena, which heads the MVA, now has four cabinet ministers, including CM Uddhav Thackeray, his son Aaditya Thackeray, Anil Parab and Subhash Desai.
Barring Aaditya Thackeray, the rest three are MLCs. Shinde’s portfolios – urban development and PWD (Public Undertakings) were given to Sena leader and Industries Minister Subhash Desai. Besides Shinde, the other ministers who have been stripped of their portfilios are Uday Samant, Dada Bhuse, Sanidpan Bhumre, Shamburaj Desai, Rajendra Patil-Yadravkar, Omprakash Kadu (who belongs to Prahar Janshakti Party), Abdul Sattar and Gulabrao Patil. The portfolio of higher education, which was with Samant, was given to Aaditya Thackeray. The charge of water supply and sanitation department, which was with Gulabrao Patil, was handed over to Anil Parab.
The departments handled by Bhumre (employment guarantee and horticulture) and Bhuse (agriculture and welfare of ex-servicemen) were given to Shankarrao Gadakh. The portfolios of Minister of State Shamburaj Desai were allocated to Sanjay Bansode (Home-rural) and Vishwajit Kadam (finance, planning and skill development).
MoS Patil-Yadravkar’s portfolios were given to Kadam (public health and family welfare), Prajakt Tanpure (medical education and textile), Satej Patil (food and drugs administration) and Aditi Tatkare (cultural activities). The portfolios of MoS Kadu (Bacchu Kadu) were allocated to Tatkare (school education), Satej Patil (water resources), Sanjay Bansode (women and child development), and Dattatray Bharne (other backward class development).
Besides, different departments handled by MoS Sattar were given to Tanpure (revenue), Satej Patil (rural development) and Tatkare (ports). In the three-party MVA government, the Uddhav Thackeray-led saffron outfit had 10 Cabinet ministers before the rebellion and four Ministers of State (MoS), including two from the Sena quota. All the four MoS have joined the rebel camp. The NCP and the Congress are the other key constituents of the MVA.
In a relief to the rebel Sena lawmakers, the Supreme Court on Monday kept in abeyance the disqualification proceedings before the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly till July 11 and sought responses to pleas by rebel MLAs questioning the legality of notices seeking their disqualification.
The SC, however, refused to pass any interim order on the plea of the Maharashtra government that there should not be any floor test in the Assembly and said they can always approach it in case of illegality.
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala directed the Maharashtra government to protect the life, liberty, and property of 39 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs and their family members.
Shinde termed the relief by the SC to him and other dissident Sena lawmakers as the victory of Bal Thackeray’s Hindutva and the ideals of his mentor Anand Dighe. “This is the victory of Hindu hridaysamrat Balasaheb’s Hindutva and the ideals of (the late) Dharamaveer Anand Dighe,” tweeted Shinde.
Eknath Shinde’s son and Sena MP Shrikant Shinde said Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal had sent disqualification notices to his father and 15 other dissident legislators under pressure which is evident from the Supreme Court order.
“The Speaker has rights in the Assembly. He has the power if anyone goes against the whip in the legislature. It does not apply to anyone not coming for any meeting. The ‘tughlaqi farman’ (the disqualification notice) was issued (by him) under pressure and the court has shown that today,” the Lok Sabha from Kalyan said.
Closing ranks with beleaguered CM Thackeray, senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said in New Delhi the ruling MVA was strongly with the Shiv Sena “whether in the government or the opposition.”
Chavan, a former CM, said the political crisis in Maharashtra was being orchestrated by the BJP from the national capital with the “misuse” of central investigative agencies. In midst of the turmoil, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, who is leading his party’s charge against the rebels, faced ED summons which he termed as a “conspiracy” to stop him from fighting against party’s political opponents.
Raut, who is the Sena’s chief spokesperson, said even if he is “killed”, he will not resort to the “Guwahati route” taken by rebel MLAs.
The ED has summoned Raut on Tuesday for questioning in a money laundering probe linked to the re-development of a Mumbai ‘chawl’ and other related financial transactions involving his wife and friends, officials said.
With the Centre providing Y-plus security to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, the party claimed it was now evident that the opposition BJP was “pulling the strings” of the current political drama in the state.
An editorial in the Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ likened the rebel Sena MLAs to “big bulls”, and alleged that they have been “sold” for Rs 50 crore. Supporters of rebel minister Patil-Yadravkar and some Shiv Sena workers came face to face with each other in Kolhapur district. However, police intervened and tried to keep the two groups away from each other to avoid a clash, a senior police official said.
Meanwhile, security arrangements were tightened in the luxury hotel in Guwahati where rebel MLAs are camping as advocates, senior police and government officials were seen entering there.
President of the Shiv Sena in neighbouring Manipur, M Tombi Singh, came to meet the rebel legislators but he was not allowed. He said he wanted to tell them not to create a division in the party.
Singh claimed that he had “some contacts with Mumbai” before coming to the hotel. (PTI)