The political cauldron is simmering in Maharashtra once again with the Supreme Court set to decide on the Sena vs Sena battle on Thursday. Amid the buzz, Maharashtra assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar said the issue of disqualification can only be decided by the Assembly Speaker.
Speaking exclusively with News18 before leaving for London to attend the Ideas for Indian Conference, Narvekar said: “The Honourable Supreme Court has heard this case at length. Many contentious issue were debated in this hearing but I am of the opinion that the issue of disqualification of members on the grounds of defection can only be decided by the way of petition before the Speaker. Speaker can only hear and decide such petitions. Judiciary, executive and legislature enjoy equal position in the Constitution. Therefore, to maintain constitutional discipline, I am sure the court won’t intervene in the decision-making powers of the Speaker.”
The Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena (UBT) had filed a disqualification plea against 16 MLAs, including current chief minister Eknath Shinde, after the split in the party. On Thursday, the Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on the issue.
Shiv Sena UBT leader Anil Parab, before leaving for Delhi to attend the hearing, said: “We have raised questions about the appointment of the Speaker and that’s why we have urged the Supreme Court to take a decision on the disqualification of these MLAs. We did not ask the Speaker as he has been appointed with the support of these MLAs. The Governor’s letter to invite Shinde to form the government is also in question. If the Supreme Court decides that the process conducted by the Governor to call the session of the assembly and elect the Speaker is void, then the government may collapse.”
However, according to Narvekar, the election of Speaker was held by following the constitutional procedure by tabling the motion for the election. He said: “164 MLAs voted for the motion and 107 against the motion so if you see the numbers on record, there is no question of resolution on Speaker’s appointment being invalid.” He added: “This government has already established its majority on the floor of the House and looking at the numbers it has, I don’t see any threat to the government.”
Regarding the disqualification of MLAs, Parab told News18 that the issue is not only of the 16 MLAs. “Though we have moved a disqualification plea against the 16 MLAs, we simultaneously filed a disqualification plea with State Assembly Speaker office. So if these 16 MLAs gets disqualified on similar grounds, over 24 MLAs of Shiv Sena (Shinde camp) will also get disqualified.”
Shiv Sena UBT is relying on the 10th Schedule of the Constitution and the Nabam Rabia case to strengthen its stand. If the verdict does not come in their favour, they are prepared to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. “We had issued the whip before the split in the Shiv Sena. Their whip was issued much later. If SC upholds the earlier whip, this government may collapse. SC has to authorise some whip and before our whip, there was no other in existence for the Sena,” said Parab.
Meanwhile, as the political temperatures rise, the timing of Narvekar’s London tour and his recent meeting with Union minister Kiren Rijiju have raised eyebrows. However, rubbishing the allegations, Narvekar said Rijiju was his “good friend” and they met since he was in Mumbai to attend an official programme. “My London tour was planned and I did not have any knowledge that the SC may pronounce its verdict the same day,” he added.