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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > The slender whip In big win for Shinde Speaker says group led by him real Shiv Sena

The slender whip: In big win for Shinde, Speaker says group led by him 'real' Shiv Sena

Updated on: 11 January,2024 06:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Team mid-day |

Despite the SC saying Bharat Gogawale’s appointment as Sena whip is illegal, Speaker Rahul Narwekar accepts appointment in his ruling, which largely favours the Shinde camp, setting the stage for further legal disputes

The slender whip: In big win for Shinde, Speaker says group led by him 'real' Shiv Sena

A protest was held at the Uddhav Sena office after the Speaker’s decision

Key Highlights

  1. Narwekar contradicted Supreme Court by validating Bharat Gogawale’s appointment as whip
  2. Supreme Court had ruled Gogawale’s appointment as illegal
  3. Developments in Maharashtra politics are becoming increasingly intriguing by the day

Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar contradicted the Supreme Court on Wednesday by validating Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) leader Bharat Gogawale’s appointment as the whip. Last year, the Supreme Court had ruled Gogawale’s appointment as illegal. The developments in Maharashtra politics are becoming increasingly intriguing by the day, and now the ball is in the Supreme Court’s court. It will be interesting to see how the case unfolds for final clarity.

In his much-awaited verdict on Wednesday, Narwekar ruled that Eknath Shinde was the authentic Shiv Sena when the split occurred in 2022. However, he surprisingly ruled that MLAs from both factions were qualified. In a point-by-point rebuttal of every claim made by Uddhav Sena, Narwekar stated that the Shinde faction had the support of 37 MLAs on June 21, 2022. Thus, the Shinde faction was deemed the real Shiv Sena and the legitimate political party. He further declared that Sunil Prabhu ceased to be the whip and upheld Bharat Gogawale’s appointment as the chief whip.

Shiv Sena leader Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale
Shiv Sena leader Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale

“The state assembly speaker has overruled the Supreme Court’s direction. The Supreme Court had annulled the appointment of MLA Bharat Gogavle as the party whip. However, Adv. Rahul Narvekar accepted Gogavle’s appointment. We will approach the Supreme Court against this judgment,” said Raosaheb Danave, Shiv Sena UBT leader. Narwekar also ruled that the Shiv Sena constitution of 1999, provided by the Eknath Shinde faction, was the valid one, rejecting the 2018 constitution submitted by the Uddhav faction.

“The leadership structure of Shiv Sena reflected in the letter dated February 27, 2018, available on the Election Commission’s website, is the relevant structure to consider. Uddhav does not have the power to remove any leader from the party,” the speaker said, adding that the position of “Paksha Pramukh” doesn’t exist in the Shiv Sena constitution. “The 2018 leadership structure did not conform to the 1999 Shiv Sena constitution,” he added.

Who said what

Bharat Gogawale, Shiv Sena’s chief whip, said, “We welcome the decision. If they choose to challenge this decision, we accept the challenge. The police will maintain law and order. More people are in contact with us. We will declare further details in due time.”

Shiv Sena UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray (left) Rahul Narwekar, Speaker (right) Eknath Shinde, chief minister
Shiv Sena UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray (left) Rahul Narwekar, Speaker (right) Eknath Shinde, chief minister

Shiv Sena UBT chief Uddhav Thackeray also criticised the decision of the Speaker and said that they will approach the apex court after examining the decision. “If Eknath Shinde is the true Shiv Sena, why didn’t he disqualify our faction? The Supreme Court set the framework, yet the Speaker considered himself above the Court and rendered his verdict. I expressed my doubts on Tuesday that this was a ploy to undermine democracy. We’ll examine whether a case of contempt of the Supreme Court can be established or not. We’ll appeal to the apex court against this decision. Shiv Sena won’t cease to exist. The people won’t acknowledge Shinde’s Sena. The order was predetermined, evident when the Speaker and Chief Minister met,” said Thackeray.

“This isn’t a judicial order but a political one. This decision has paved the way for Uddhav Thackeray in the Supreme Court. We’ll take this to the people of Maharashtra. I’m not surprised by this ruling. The leaders of the ruling parties have already commented on the outcome. Hence, they were certain of their victory. Uddhav Thackeray will have to approach the Supreme Court; Thackeray will find justice there,” said NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

Ravindra Waikar, Shiv Sena UBT leader told mid-day, “The honourable Speaker overruled the verdict passed by the Supreme Court. The Speaker had no right to alter the whip. If the apex court had ruled that Sunil Prabhu is the whip, the Speaker lacks the authority to change it. The Speaker doesn’t possess the right to modify the resolution passed by Uddhav Thackrey in 2018. Today’s decision was entirely incorrect. The Speaker is merely a tribunal and must respond with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. 

Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) workers celebrate after the verdict in the MLA disqualification case. Pic/PTI
Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) workers celebrate after the verdict in the MLA disqualification case. Pic/PTI

It seems as though someone else wrote the decision, and the Speaker merely recited it. It’s an entirely baseless decision, and we’ll challenge it in the Supreme Court.” When asked about not disqualifying MLAs from both factions, he said, “That decision is also incorrect. If the Speaker is neutralizing the decision by not disqualifying, it renders the decision meaningless, and the tribunal lacks sufficient authority to issue such a judgment.”

“The world will come to know that democracy has been killed in our country and Hitlerism has begun. A legal battle will be waged against this decision. I have never witnessed such shameless destruction of democracy. The expectation is from the Supreme Court, but our greater hope lies with the people. We have provided all the video recordings to the Election Commission. Such a ruling is astounding. When Rahul Narwekar was in our party, who granted him a ticket to contest the election?” said Aaditya Thackeray, Shiv Sena UBT leader.

“A political party is not the private property of anyone. Today’s decision has shattered dynastic control,” said Eknath Shinde, Chief Minister of Maharashtra. “By recognising the Shinde faction as real the Shiv Sena, a dangerous precedent is being set. This decision is contrary to the tenets of the 10th schedule of our constitution. What has been done to the real Shiv Sena will now allow some ambitious BJP leaders to do the same to BJP.” Clyde Crasto, National Spokesperson, NCP.

EC gave symbol to Shinde
Last year, the Election Commission granted the ‘Shiv Sena’ name and ‘bow and arrow’ symbol to the Shinde-led faction, while Shiv Sena (UBT) was given a flaming torch as its symbol.

Shiv Sena (UBT) workers protest after the verdict in Solapur
Shiv Sena (UBT) workers protest after the verdict in Solapur

In June 2022, Eknath Shinde and 39 other Shiv Sena MLAs, out of a total of 56 legislators, rebelled against then Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, causing a vertical split in the party. This rebellion led to the downfall of the MVA government, which included the NCP and the Congress. Shinde, aligning with the BJP, assumed power in the state.

Following this, both the Shinde and Thackeray factions filed cross-petitions before the Maharashtra speaker’s office, seeking the disqualification of each other’s MLAs based on anti-defection laws. 

The Supreme Court ruled the Shinde faction as the real Shiv Sena and directed the speaker in May 2023 to resolve these issues, setting a deadline of December 31, 2023, subsequently extended to January 10, 2024.

Ground report
mid-day visited various Shiv Sena Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena (UBT) offices in Andheri and Borivli.

Shiv Sena (UBT)
It was observed that the offices were not particularly enthusiastic about the result to be declared. Only a handful of people were present, giving the impression of an ordinary day. Additionally, many Shakha Pramukhs were absent from the offices.

Police personnel stand guard during the celebration in Mumbai. Pic/PTI
Police personnel stand guard during the celebration in Mumbai. Pic/PTI

Deepak, a shakha pramukh from Shiv Sena (UBT) DN Nagar, said, “Even if the decision doesn’t favour us, we won’t take to the streets to disrupt others’ lives. Hon’ble Uddhav Thackeray has instructed us to remain calm regardless of the outcome.”

Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde)
In contrast, the offices seemed to be preparing for a celebratory outcome. Many office bearers were present, indicating readiness for a positive result.

Altaf Khan, head of Mumbai’s North Western region for Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde), told mid-day, “We are very optimistic about the outcome being in our favour and have planned celebrations across the region, many of which will take place in the evening once other office bearers return from their daily routines.”

Parvez Shamim Sheikh, Versova shakha pramukh, said, “We are all set for a celebration, which will commence around 7.30 pm once all office bearers return to the shakha.” 

Why UBT MLAs can’t be disqualified
Clarifying why UBT faction MLAs can’t be disqualified, Advocate Rahul Narwekar said, “Submissions by Shinde faction that legislators from UBT factions were liable to be disqualified cannot be accepted on grounds that it is mere allegation that they had voluntarily given up membership of party. No material has been given to substantiate this.  Though a petition tried to show that a whip was served on the respondent, the petitioner has failed to prove it was served. There are major inconsistencies in the answer of the whip being served. Thus, the submission for disqualification of UBT members also cannot be accepted.”

What speaker said in ruling

Highlights from the reasoning behind Narwekar’s ruling

>>  Cannot accept Uddhav faction’s contention that the 2018 party constitution should be relied upon to disqualify MLAs.
>>  The 1999 Shiv Sena constitution provided by the Election Commission of India is the real Shiv Sena constitution.
>>  As per this, the Shiv Sena ‘pramukh’ (Uddhav Thackeray) does not have the powers to remove any leader from the party.
>>  The Eknath Shinde-led faction, with 37 MLAs, is thus the real Shiv Sena political party when rival factions emerged in 2022.
>>  No MLA from either side to be disqualified, as even Gogawale’s whip to Uddhav camp MLAs were not issued in person.

June 2022
The month when the Shiv Sena split

Year Shiv Sena Constitution was amended

No of Shiv Sena MLAs that rebelled against Thackeray in 2022

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