Eknath Shinde govt on backfoot after SC verdict

MVA, though disappointed, clamours for his resignation

Eknath Shinde (IANS Photo)
Eknath Shinde (IANS Photo)

Sujata Anandan

The Supreme Court judgment in the case of the disqualification of 16 MLAs belonging to the Shiv Sena could be described as a tight balancing act between both parties. But it has ended up pleasing nobody and upsetting both sides of the case.

Almost ten months after Uddhav Thackeray resigned as chief minister of Maharashtra, holding the swearing in of Eknath Shinde and his rebels as illegal, pulling up the governor and the Speaker for unconstitutional decisions and the appointment of a new whip by the Shinde faction unsustainable under the Tenth Schedule,  the judgment has made the continuation of the Shinde government fraught with shakiness. Does a government declared illegal have the right to continue in power? The Shinde faction is not happy about the consequences they may have to face as a result.

It is very much clear from the Supreme Court judgment that the Shiv Sena Shinde group's whip is illegal and therefore the current govt led by Eknath Shinde is illegal and formed against the Constitution - Shiv Sena (UBT) MP, Sanjay Raut

At the same time not restoring Uddhav Thackeray to the chief minister’s office on the grounds that he resigned and did not take a floor test has come as a deep disappointment to the Maha Vikas Aghadi who believe whether Uddhav resigned in a huff from his office or not, holding the Shinde government illegal should automatically restore the situation to status quo ante.

As per the judgement today, the entire government of Shinde -Fadnavis was formed on the basis of an illegal whip deciding who to vote for and a trust vote carried out on the orders of a biased Governor. What a slap on the face of this illegal cabinet, The judgment without actually saying it has called the Maharashtra government illegal and unconstitutional! An unconstitutional call by governor for floor test and an illegal whip deciding the CM to be from his illegal faction are not to be countenance -Priyanka Chaturvedi, SS (UBT) MP

With the Shinde government now legally vacuous while not quite dismissed on those very grounds, it is not just the 16 MLAs but also all those others gravitating towards  Shinde who are put in a tight spot morally and politically. The immediate understanding is that this will stem the bleeding that the Uddhav faction has been undergoing in the past months, thus giving him a much needed political lease again.

Uddhav has been criticised for resigning hastily on emotional grounds but the point here is that the Shiv Sena is an emotional party through and through whatever its issues may be. Unlike the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party workers and supporters who look at cold calculations before making their choices at elections or otherwise, the Shiv Sena has always relied on the hearts and sentiments of its supporters. Issues have not mattered per se to its voters but their leaders and any disrespect to them have. Which is why unlike Sharad Pawar who could split the Congress twice and still bounce back on his feet, growing into one of the most prominent leaders in the country,  no Shiv Sena leader has been able to survive a break with the party and the Thackerays. Chhagan Bhujbal has had to completely surrender to the Congress and later the NCP for survival and Narayan Rane, who found it far more difficult to play second fiddle, is today in the political wilderness electorally despite being a minister in the Union government. 

We have filed a Special Leave Petition ( SLP) in the court already in case of the Election Commission decision. The then CM Uddhav Thackeray resigned on moral grounds and the court also said that if he would have not resigned then things would have been different. Here, the SC made it clear that Shinde's govt is very much illegal and unconstitutional. - Anil Parab, former Maharashtra minister from SS(UBT)

This government, it's Speaker and tge Shinde faction whip are unconstitutional, illegal and immoral after tge Supreme Court verdict. 5hey must resign. -Sachin Sawant, Congress spokesperson

Predictably, the Shinde camp is radio-silent while, despite their disappointment, the SS (UBT) is both crowing and clamouring for Shinde’s resignation. SS (UBT)  spokesperson Sanjay Raut told Shinde,  “You were worried about 16 MLAs? Well, your whole government has been held illegal. Do resign.”

Uddhav Thackeray, realising that the court had probably handed him a victory in defeat, at his press conference, said,  “How could I have continued in office when I would have had to stand rubbing shoulders with  gaddars (traitors)!”

Betrayal is a strong sentiment in the Shiv Sena and already the party’s supporters were rallying around Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray. Over the past months they have almost bounced back with support from their emotional voters. While both the Congress and the NCP too have called for Shinde’s resignation and expressed some disappointment privately at the failure to restore their government, they are now gearing up for an early poll as they believe the nervousness in the Shinde faction will have many deserters return to the mother party, thus leaving the Shinde government unsustainable.

We have been vindicated. The government must resign. -Clyde Crasto, Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson

Meanwhile, the words “unconstitutional” , “illegal” and “immoral” are being bandied about liberally by the MVA allies in describing the Shinde government and demanding its exit. The Supreme Court verdict also seems to  have blurred the edges of differences among them arising out of Sharad Pawar’s recent criticisms about the Congress and Uddhav Thackeray in his recent autobiography and redirected their focus toward the common enemy, which is the BJP. 

However, as many political observers said, the day belonged to the Supreme Court which has somewhat restored the faith of the people in the judiciary by their judgment even if they have put no smiles on any faces. The road ahead will be more difficult for the Shinde faction but the verdict hands tremendous potential to the MVA to draw political mileage from their ruling.

As a NCP leader said, combined with the Constitution Bench’s judgment in the Delhi government case where they held elected governments superior to administrative officials, it has been  a good day for Indian democracy.

Inputs by Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

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