Uddhav faction holds EC, Speaker to task over disqualification, Speaker denies with counter presser
Shiv Sena's Thackeray faction holds a 'Janata Court' Press event.
Mumbai | In a fiery press conference held in Mumbai today, Shiv Sena (UBT) Party Chief Uddhav Thackeray lashed out at the Election Commission (EC) and Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar, following the latter’s verdict regarding the disqualification of Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and 15 other Shiv Sena MLAs, who rebelled and formed government with the BJP in 2022. Narwekar immediately held a press conference in response, refuting the allegations.
Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA and former state transport minister Anil Parab along with Adv. Aseem Sarode and Adv. Rohit Sharma who is part of Shiv Sena (UBT) legal team also presented arguments and evidence which completely contradict Narwekar and EC’s claims, which formed the basis of the decisions against Thackeray faction.
Parab presented video clips of the Shiv Sena party proceedings in 2013 and 2018. As shown in these clips, in 2013, the Shiv Sena National Executive created the post of Shiv Sena Pramukh (Chief), a permanent fixture attached to the name of Bal Thackeray. It was made impossible to change.
During these same proceedings, a new post - Shiv Sena Paksha Pramukh (Party Chief) - was created, and all the authority that earlier rested with the Shiv Sena Pramukh was handed over to him, not the national executive committee as claimed by Narwekar. The clips also have a clear mention that the power to induct and suspend any member into the executive committee and the party lies with the Shiv Sena Parksha Pramukh.
A significant aspect of these clips was that Narwekar himself participated in these proceedings, as he was a member of Shiv Sena back then.
स्वत: राहुल नार्वेकर उपस्थित होते जेंव्हा आदरणीय उद्धवसाहेबांना पक्षप्रमुख म्हणून एकमताने निवडून दिले, निवडणूक आयोगाच्या प्रतिनिधींच्या उपस्थितीत, नियमांनुसार. स्मृतीभ्रंश झाला असेल तर हा फोटो दाखवा #RahulNarwekar 🏴ना.— Shailesh Amar Singh - शैलेश अमर सिंह (@ShaileshASingh) January 16, 2024
जनता न्यायालय #UddhavThackeray #महाराष्ट्र #Maharashtra pic.twitter.com/QU5qtq0jTL
Another matter of contention which apparently shaped Narwekar’s verdict was that the proceedings of the 2018 intra party elections were not conveyed to the EC and it had not received the copy of the amended Party Constitution either.
Referring to this aspect, Parab showed the video clip of the 2018 election proceedings, which again shows Uddhav Thackeray being elected as the Shiv Sena Party Chief for a period of another five years. Several of the rebel leaders could also be seen approving the same. Shinde too could be seen being elected as the group leader and prostrating before Thackeray.
Both the videos also allegedly showed the copies of the election proceedings and amendments which were submitted to the EC, with the EC’s receipt stamp on them.
Narwekar in his press conference claimed that the documents shown were misrepresented by Thackeray’s party.
“They have merely shown a paper with an EC stamp on it. They seem to have not read what is actually described in it. The document clearly says the power of inducting or removing members lies with the national executive committee and even if the party chief has the said powers, he is required to consult the executive and acquire its assent,” he said.
While addressing the issue of the legitimacy of his appointment, Thackeray questioned the formation of two consecutive Central Governments and one state government with his support.
“If I did not have any authority in the party and if the EC had no note of the change in leadership, why did they allot me the A and B forms for contesting elections? If that was the case, why did [Narendra] Modi and [Amit] Shah come asking for my support to form governments? On what basis did they seek it?,” Thackeray asked.
He also said, “In one of his speeches, Narendra Modi had proclaimed that since Balasaheb [Thackeray] has passed away, I will reach out to Uddhavji for political discussions and guidance. Did he not know that my position was invalid?”
VIDEO | “In today’s (Janta Nyaayaalay) meeting, Uddhav Thackeray, through data, highlighted the injustice being done by the people in power. As a Shiv Sainik, now it is our duty to take the data from here to the public. Our fight will inspire parties to fight for their rights,”… pic.twitter.com/0AMBoQKYXo— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) January 16, 2024
Legal team’s arguments
Adv. Aseem Sarode, launching an exhaustive legal argument against the speaker, said that Narwekar has overlooked the basic premise of the Supreme Court judgment that entrusted the decision making powers onto him, regarding the disqualification of the 16 MLAs who rebelled. He said that he overlooked the instructions and murdered the Constitution.
Both Sarode and Adv. Rohit Sharma, in their presentations, made the distinction between a political party and legislative party.
Sharma said that while Narvekar recognised the legislative party as the voice of the political party, that cannot be held as the political party is a permanent establishment registered with the EC. The legislative party, on the other hand, has a life of five years or less, depending on the life of the legislative assembly. Its members also change with every election.
Attack on democracy
Thackeray said that the party is going to file a case against the EC questioning what happened to the 19,41,000 affidavits sent by Shiv Sena party members from across the state to the EC. Thackeray said that if the EC was not going to consider these affidavits at all, it should compensate for the cost to gather them.
"I ask the Election Commission to compensate the cost borne by the Shiv Sainiks to gather these affidavits. They put their hard earned money to purchase these 100 rupee stamp papers each. Now multiply the number with 19 lakh affidavits. Is it not a fraud by the Election Commission? Were those papers sent by us for them to sleep upon?," Thackeray asked.
He also called the verdict by Narwekar an attack on democracy itself and said that it could happen to any political party in the country.
“They are trying to finish Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). They are clearly saying that they want just one party to exist in the country. How can the EC allow that?” he asked.
He further said, “This is not just Uddhav Thackeray’s or Shiv Sena’s fight. It is a fight for democracy. Is the Supreme Court going to exist in the country? This is a fight to determine that,” Thackeray said.
A message to other Opposition leaders
When asked if he has spoken with his INDIA alliance partners over whether his case could set a precedent for action on other parties in the country, Thackeray said, “Every party that is not with the BJP, whether it is NCP, [MK] Stalin, Mamata Banerjee, they are all being harassed. It is also said that [Arvind] Kejriwal and [Hemant] Soren might be arrested. Everyone has understood what atmosphere we are living through.”