Monday, July 15, 2024

Ruling Shiv Sena MLAs seek extra time to reply to disqualification notices

The ruling ally Shiv Sena legislators will seek an extension for the time-limit to reply to the Maharashtra Legislature’s notices on the pending issue of the disqualification of 16 MLAs, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, party leaders said here on Monday.

Last Saturday, the Maharashtra Legislature had issued notices to the legislators of the Shiv Sena and Opposition Shiv Sena (UBT), giving them a week’s time to file their replies to Speaker Rahul Narwekar.

Sena MLAs Sanjay Shirsat and Bharat Gogawale – both in the list of 16 who face disqualification – said that all the legislators will have to file a legal reply which would take time.

“Accordingly, we shall request the Speaker to extend the time-limit at least by a week to enable us file our say properly,” said Shirsat, though it was not clear whether all MLAs will file their replies individually or jointly.

The Shiv Sena has 41 MLAs and is currently in power with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and since recently the breakaway Nationalist Congress Party’s Deputy CM Ajit Pawar.

The Shiv Sena (UBT) led by ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray has the backing of some 14 MLAs.

An official had said that the process to issue the notices started from July 8 (Saturday) but did not specify the exact number of MLAs of the two rival Senas, though around 54 have been sent the notices.

The keenly-watched disqualification proceedings are likely to be decided by the Speaker around early-August, nearly three months after the Supreme Court verdict in the ‘Sena versus Sena’ matter.

Besides CM Shinde, those facing the axe of disqualification include — ministers Tanaji Sawant, Sandeepan Bhumre and Abdul Sattar; and legislators Bharat Gogawale, Sanjay Shirsat, Yamini Jadhav, Prakash Surve, Mahesh Shinde, Lata Sonawane, Balaji Kinikar, Ramesh Bornale, Sanjay Raimulkar, Chimanrao Patil, and Balaji Kalankar.

Sena (UBT) leader Sunil Prabhu had last week filed a fresh plea in the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Speaker Narwekar to give his verdict in the matter within two weeks.

The Sena (UBT) has claimed that despite a party whip, these MLAs failed to attend the meeting convened by the then Chief Minister Thackeray in June 2022, which amounted to anti-party activity and attracted disqualification as per the rules.

Besides, Prabhu pointed out that despite three reminders to the Legislature Secretariat, no steps were taken in the matter of the disqualification proceedings.

It may be recalled that in June 2022, the state witnessed a political quake when Shinde along with 40 Shiv Sena and 10 other independents walked out of the Thackeray government.

After a series of political developments culminating in Thackeray’s resignation on June 29, Shinde took over as the new CM on June 30 last year with the support of the BJP.

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