Uddhav faction challenges Maha Speaker's order declaring Shinde group as real Shiv Sena in SC

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Uddhav Thackeray, Eknath Shinde. Image: Onmanorama

New Delhi: The Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar's order declaring the Sena bloc led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde as the "real political party" after its split in June 2022. The speaker had also rejected the Thackeray faction's plea to disqualify 16 MLAs of the ruling camp, including Shinde.

In his ruling on the disqualification petitions on January 10, the speaker had not disqualified any MLA from the rival camps. The ruling further cemented Shinde's position as the chief minister, 18 months after he led a rebellion against Thackeray, and added to his 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 state assembly elections due in the second half of 2024.

Narwekar had said no party leadership can use provisions of the 10th Schedule of the Constitution (anti-defection law) to quell dissent or indiscipline within a party. The Shinde group had the support of 37 out of the total 54 Sena MLAs when the party split in June 2022, the speaker had noted.

The Election Commission had given the 'Shiv Sena' name and 'bow and arrow' symbol to the Shinde-led faction in early 2023. In his order on the disqualification petitions filed by the Shinde-led Sena and the rival Thackeray faction against each other's MLAs, Narwekar had 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.

"All the petitions seeking disqualification of MLAs are rejected. No MLA is being disqualified," Narwekar had said. The speaker had also held that the Shiv Sena 'pramukh' (chief) did not have the power to remove any leader from the party. He did not accept the argument that the will of the party chief and the will of the party were synonymous.

The 1999 party constitution submitted to the Election Commission was the valid constitution for deciding the issues and the Thackeray group's contention that the amended constitution of 2018 should be relied upon was not acceptable, he had added.

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