The ongoing power struggle within Shiv Sena took a legal turn as the Uddhav Thackeray faction approached the Supreme Court, challenging Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar's ruling that declared the Eknath Shinde faction as the genuine Shiv Sena. The Speaker had dismissed disqualification petitions against Shinde and 38 MLAs, a decision now contested by the Thackeray faction.
In his January 10 decision, Speaker Narwekar emphasized that the Shinde faction had a majority when the factions emerged in June 2022. The ruling upheld Shinde's leadership and dismissed the authority of Sunil Prabhu as the party's whip, highlighting procedural irregularities in calling a meeting.
"A perusal of the WhatsApp message shows that the said message was sent at 12.31 am for a meeting scheduled at 12.30 pm. None of the Shinde faction members were ever served the notice of the meeting. Their disqualification submission is liable to be rejected," the speaker stated.
The Speaker's verdict also validated Bharat Gogavale as the party's whip and affirmed Eknath Shinde as the leader. Narwekar emphasized that attending party meetings and expressing dissent outside the legislative house are internal party matters.
This legal battle stems from the party split in June 2022, altering Shiv Sena's power dynamics in Maharashtra. The Speaker's ruling came after a Constitution Bench directive, stating that the Speaker has the appropriate authority to decide on disqualification petitions.
The Thackeray faction contends that rebels did not communicate their opposition when the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance was formed, challenging the legitimacy of the Shinde-led government. This legal entanglement underscores the complexity of intra-party disputes and their repercussions on the state's political landscape.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University