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Disqualification of Shiv Sena MLAs: Maha awaits a ‘make or break’ verdict by Speaker

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Shillong, January 9: Maharashtra awaits with bated breath for the much-anticipated verdict in the disqualification case of Shiv Sena MLAs, including Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

The “make or break” ruling, is expected to be delivered by Speaker Rahul Narwekar amid a cloud over his Sunday lunch meeting with Shinde that has attracted howls protests from the Maha Vikas Aghadi allies Congress-Shiv Sena-UBT-Nationalist Congress Party-SP).

Narwekar, who came under fire on multiple occasions for the alleged delays in delivering the verdict, is likely to finally pronounce it around 4 pm on Wednesday, the extended deadline given by the Supreme Court.

Despite showing a brave face, many in the ruling Shinde-led Shiv Sena are apprehensive over the outcome, while the ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena-UBT is already planning its next move in case the verdict goes against it.

The Speaker completed the hearings in the 34 petitions two weeks ago, filed by the Shinde and Thackeray factions, along with voluminous supporting material running into over 2.50 lakh documents.

In the hearings, the Speaker categorised and examined the pleas on various parameters like anti-party activities, defection, election of Speaker, violation of Whips, etc. to arrive at his final conclusion on disqualification.

Anticipating the worst, SS-UBT leader Anil Parab said on Tuesday that if the ruling goes against them, then his party would challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court and expressed hopes that the Speaker would not act like a party functionary.

However, ruling Shiv Sena MP Dr. Shrikant E. Shinde said that the outcome would be as per the proceedings before the Speaker and will favour truth, while other leaders indicated that they expect the verdict in their favour, and the government would not be disturbed.

The case arose after the MVA ally Shiv Sena split vertically in June 2022 and led to the collapse of the Thackeray-led government, and Shinde was anointed the new CM.

Following that political earthquake, both the Sena factions filed cross-petitions seeking action against each other’s MLAs under the anti-defection laws, violating the Whips, etc.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission had recognised the Shinde group and allotted it the name of Shiv Sena and the bow and arrow poll symbol, while the Thackeray-led faction was given the name Shiv Sena-Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray and given the flaming torch election symbol.

In May, the Supreme Court had directed the Speaker to pronounce his decision on the real Shiv Sena and then asked him to give his ruling on the disqualification petitions by December 31.

Days before that deadline, on December 20, the SC granted an extension of 10 days till January 10 to give the verdict – which could have major political ramifications in the state, both immediate and in the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections this year.

Later, the case of the NCP – which has also split vertically in July 2023 – is expected to be taken up with the verdict likely by January 31, with its own separate political consequences. (IANS)

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