Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar today explained his decision not to disqualify the members of the Uddhav Thackeray camp — a question the Shiv Sena UBT chief had pointedly asked. While the naming of Bharat Gogawale as whip “proper”, it is not certain that the whip to attend the party meeting was “adequately and properly served” to Thackeray faction MLAs, he said.
“It appears that this service is not complete. There was no evidence to show this whip was properly served upon the MLAs belonging to the Thackeray faction. Since this filter was not cleared, it was not appropriate for me, under the principles of natural justice, to hold them disqualified,” Mr Narwekar told NDTV in an exclusive interview, declaring all the details are mentioned in the written version of his order.
Mr Thackray had raised the point today while talking to the media, questioning why, if their version of the constitution was not valid, they were not disqualified.
Mr Narwekar — while delivering his verdict on disqualification petitions pending for since June 2022 — had named Mr Shinde’s faction as the “real Shiv Sena”, basing his decision on a 1999 version of the party constitution that is with the Election Commission.
The version of the constitution given by Mr Thackeray in 2018 is “not on record”, Mr Narwekar had said. Going by that constitution, Uddhav Thackeray did not have the power to remove Eknath Shinde from Shiv Sena, he had added.
He had also dismissed the petitions to disqualify MLAs from both camps — a move that was strongly questioned by critics.
“You can awaken a person who is sleeping but it is rather impossible to wake up a person who is pretending to sleep,” was Mr Narwekar’s response.
He added that skipping a party meeting is more about dissent than violation of rules and so does not call for disqualification. The right to dissent is included in the constitutional right of freedom of speech, he added.
After splitting in June 2022, the two Sena factions had served disqualification notices against each other. The list of the Eknath Shinde faction had 14 of the 16 MLAs supporting Uddhav Thackeray.
The Thackeray faction had filed disqualification petitions against 40 MLAs from Team Shinde.
Mr Narwekar also answered the criticism that he had violated Supreme Court orders, failing to understand its brief — a point that was also voiced by Mr Thackeray.
“The courts had asked me to say which is the real political party, because the whip of the original political party would be applicable and should be recognised. That’s what the court said,” Mr Narwekar said. So after recognising Bharat Gogawale as the whip, it was also his job to ensure that the whip was properly served, he added.
Earlier this evening, Mr Thackeray had launched an all-out attack on Mr Narwekar.
“He (the Speaker) has made a thief the master of the House,” Mr Thackeray said, voicing doubts that Mr Narwekar had any idea of what he was tasked with by the Supreme Court.
“He has given a decision that exceeds the brief of the Supreme Court. The court had given a framework, but he distorted it into something else… He should have made laws against party hopping stricter. Instead, he was busy clearing a path for himself,” he had added.
Rubbishing the criticism directed at him as “baseless allegations”, Mr Narwekar said if someone believes his order is untenable in law or unjustified, they should explain their reasoning. “Kindly bring out the shortcomings in that order,” he said.
Rahul Narwekar,Shiv Sena,Uddhav Thackeray,Eknath Shinde,Maharashtra