Eknath Shinde group wasting time? will lose MLA post?

Umakant Deshpande

Mumbai: Within four to five days after the mutiny, the fact that the faction did not move for legal recognition is a sign that the rebel Eknath Shinde faction is sitting. Whether to lose the legislature or resign after being disqualified, these options are in the current situation and the legislature is likely to survive only if the decision of disqualification is stayed by the High or Supreme Court. The future of the Mahavikas Aghadi government will depend on how many MLAs remain in the Shinde group after the crackdown.

Shiv Sena has filed a petition with the Deputy Speaker of the Assembly seeking disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs. Vice President Narhari Jirwal had a long discussion with Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbakoni on Friday.

The vice-president is taking care that the principle of natural justice is being adhered to by giving the rebels a chance to present their case either by themselves, through audio-visual or even through lawyers, and that there should be no legal error and their decision should be upheld in court. Mumbai High Court Justice Manish Pitale’s verdict on the transfer of Congress MLAs from Goa is being relied upon. In Goa, 10 out of 15 Congress MLAs, two-thirds of them, defected and joined the BJP. It was then decided that as per the tenth appendix of the constitution, two-thirds of the MLAs could not be disqualified as they had split from the party and joined another party.

If the Shinde faction has been with more than two-thirds of the Shiv Sena MLAs in the last four-five days, it would have to get the approval of the Assembly Vice-President to merge the faction and the BJP. According to Mahavikas Aghadi leaders and some legislators, even if more than two-thirds of the MLAs split, they will have to merge with the second registered party in the legislature. So some think it can survive as a second group. There will be a court battle over it.

The vice-president has the upper hand in approving the split of more than two-thirds of the members and the merger of other parties. However, the rebel Shinde group has not made any application to the vice-president in four days. As Shiv Sena has already started disqualification proceedings against 16 MLAs, disqualification action may be taken against these MLAs. Now, the rebel group has proposed to the vice-president for approval by a separate group, but it will be heard by the vice-president once the disqualification petition is heard. At that time, disqualification would reduce the number of MLAs in the rebel group and without two-thirds of the members left, it would not be possible to get legal recognition as a separate group or even a merger, the sources said.

The rebel group or the BJP did not ask the governor in four or five days to prove a majority in the assembly as the government is in the minority. Therefore, there are signs that the process of disqualification of MLAs will be completed next week and a vote of confidence in the Mahavikas Aghadi government will come before the Assembly.

Some legislators are likely to be disqualified as the rebel group wasted time on the legal front. He will have to rely on a court stay to prove his disqualification is not valid, the lawyers said. The government can survive if some of the rebel MLAs return due to disqualification action. But if it does not last, it is likely that the BJP will benefit from the rebellion of some rebels.

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