Uddhav Thackeray challenges EC in SC over 'real Shiv Sena'
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena faction moved the Supreme Court on Monday to challenge the Election Commission's (EC) proceedings to decide on the "real Shiv Sena." It has also argued the EC can't determine the legitimate leader of the party. This comes only days after the EC directed the two Sena factions—led by Thackeray and CM Eknath Shinde—to prove the majority.
- With Sena rebel Eknath Shinde forming the government in Maharashtra, the conflict has now shifted to seizing control of the party, the organization that Thackeray's father—Bal Thackeray—had founded.
- To recall, Shinde was sworn in as Maharashtra's CM on June 30 with the support of 40 Sena MLAs and the BJP.
- With 106 MLAs, the BJP is the single-largest party in the 287-member Maharashtra Assembly.
The plea by the Thackeray camp says that the EC cannot decide on the party's legitimate leader until the Supreme Court gives its verdict on a petition seeking disqualification of Shinde and 15 other rebel Sena MLAs. Urging the EC to not proceed at this stage, the petition contended the Shinde camp, in "acts of desperation," may "fabricate an artificial majority in the organization."
The petition against the EC's proceedings, filed by Rajesh Inamdar, Harsh Pandey, and Anish Shah, stated the poll body's inquiry into the matter, which is still being heard by the Supreme Court, amounts to "judicial interference" and can thus be termed as "contempt of court."
Addressing Sena members on Sunday, Thackeray said the revolt by rebels this time was aimed at "finishing off" the party. "Unlike earlier rebellions, this coup is to finish off the Shiv Sena forever. They have hired professional agencies to counter us. This is a battle between money and loyalty," he said, adding rebel MLAs will carry the stamp of "traitors" on their heads forever.
Chaos in the Sena last month caused a split, and the EC will now decide which camp is the "real Shiv Sena" and has the right to use the party symbol. The Shinde faction claims to have the support of 40/50 Sena MLAs and 12/18 Lok Sabha MPs. The EC has asked both groups to submit documents to prove their majority by August 8.
The two factions have also been asked to issue written statements outlining their positions on the party's conflict, which resulted in Shinde becoming the new chief minister and winning a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly. Under the new arrangement, the BJP's ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis was appointed as Shinde's deputy. The Shinde camp also claims to be the real "Hindutva" Sena.
The Shinde camp earlier asserted their Sena opponents must be removed for disobeying the party whip during last month's trust vote and speaker's election, while Thackeray's camp disputes the legitimacy of the very trust vote. Both have been invited to frame concerns for consideration by a larger bench of the Supreme Court by Wednesday (July 27). The case will be heard on August 1.