SC relief for Shinde camp

Mumbai/New Delhi/ Guwahati, June 27: Cracking the whip against rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray today divested nine Ministers who have jumped ship of their portfolios, while the dissident party MLAs took their fight to the Supreme Court, which kept in abeyance their disqualification proceedings before the Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly till July 11.
A week into the political crisis – 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 Shiv Sena leadership – both sides have refused to blink and appear prepared for a long fight.
The revolt in the Shiv Sena, which heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Government, has pushed the three-party ruling coalition, which also consists of the NCP and the Congress, into a deep crisis.
An official statement said in Mumbai that 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 action, the Shiv Sena 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. In a relief to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, the Supreme Court kept in abeyance the disqualification proceedings before the Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly till July 11, and also sought responses from the State Government and others on their pleas questioning the legality of notices seeking their disqualification.
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala also refused to pass any interim order on a vehement plea by senior advocate Devdutt Kamat, appearing for the MVA Government, that in the meantime there should not be any floor test in the Assembly.
The court said the State Government can always approach it in case of any illegality. Directing the Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government to protect the “life, liberty, and property” of the 39 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, headed by minister Shinde, and their family members, the top court said the rebels may file replies to the disqualification notices till 5:30 pm on July 12.
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. Hours after the SC ruling, senior leaders of Congress and NCP met Chief Minister Thackeray and took stock of the political situation.
“We are alliance partners. We will sit together and discuss things,” state Congress chief Nana Patole told reporters outside Matoshri bungalow, the CM’s private residence in suburban Bandra, after the meeting.
Congress minister Ashok Chavan, NCP cabinet members Dilip Walse Patil and Jayant Patil also met CM Thackeray. Addressing Shiv Sena workers in Karjat, on outskirts of Mumbai, Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray claimed 15 to 20 Shiv Sena MLAs who have joined the rebel camp are in touch with him and have urged the party to bring them back to Mumbai from Guwahati, where they are lodged in a hotel.
The junior Thackeray, who has been doing firefighting to save the MVA government, said every party worker is seeing the current situation as an opportunity and not as a problem.
“The dirt has gone away. Now we can do something good,” Thackeray said, referring to the rebel MLAs.
“Around 15-20 MLAs are in touch with us. They call me and Shiv Sainiks and urged us to bring them back from Guwahati. Their situation is like a prisoner, first in Surat (where the rebels landed after leaving Mumbai last week) and then in Guwahati,” Aaditya Thackeray said.
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. Rebel Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar targeted Raut, who has been extremely vocal in his criticism of the dissidents, and termed him as a ‘blue-eyed boy’ of the NCP out to finish off the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
In an open letter, Kesarkar said those who get elected because of legislators are now abusing them every day, an apparent reference to Raut.
“We are called pigs, much disturbing abuse is coming our way, so much so that our dead bodies are now awaited,” he said. 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. Supporters of rebel minister Patil-Yadravkar and some Shiv Sena workers came face to face with each other in Kolhapur district. (PTI)