Maharashtra: A battle lost, war remains to be won

Shiv Sena (UBT) dismisses Speaker's verdict as "conspiracy" and foul play, vows to defeat Shinde faction at hustings

Aaditya Thackeray has breathed fire and brimstone against the ruling (photo: @AUThackeray/X)
Aaditya Thackeray has breathed fire and brimstone against the ruling (photo: @AUThackeray/X)

Sujata Anandan

At the end of the day, after more than 18 months of wrangling, there were no surprises  in the decision of Maharashtra speaker Rahul Narvekar to hold the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena as the official Shiv Sena.

What was surprising, though, was that the speaker held every submission of the Uddhav Thackeray faction and every document as flawed and unacceptable despite the fact that leading lawyers had vetted those documents, which were also presented to the Supreme Court and were not held invalid by the apex court. There was clearly not even a semblance of neutrality in the decision.

However, Narvekar’s verdict was a master lesson in how to root for one’s own despite the facts on record — as Shiv Sena (UBT) spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said, the speaker has played a master hand in holding everything that the Supreme Court held as illegal and unconstitutional as the right thing which might clearly now create a conflict between the two institutions.

However, it has been very clear for years now that the BJP regime cares little about Constitutional procedures and predictably, it was a blatant denial of fair play in the speaker’s decision that has drawn huge support for Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray on Marathi social media.

“We stand by Balasheb’s heirs, Uddhav and Aaditya, never mind the Speaker’s verdict,” was the general thrust of the supporters, while an angry  Aaditya Thackeray himself described the verdict “as the shameless murder of democracy” by the speaker.

There was poignant irony in the fact that Narvekar, who started his career in the Shiv Sena as Uddhav’s protègè, was in turn assigned to mentor Aaditya before joining the Nationalist Congress Party and then the BJP — so while he once groomed Aaditya in politics, his one-time protègè is today describing Narvekar as predictable and "sold out".

While his father Uddhav Thackeray said a verdict that comes ”after the judge meets the accused at his home on the eve of his decision cannot be held as bona fide (referring to Narvekar’s visit to Shinde on Monday evening against which Thackeray had moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday), Aaditya, full of fire and brimstone, warned the people that this sheer violation of established constitutional principles and norms were an indicator that in 2024, it was the BJP’S intention to junk “Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Constitution” and put its own laws in place if they  were to return to power again.

Narvekar’s holding that the “will of the paksh pramukh (party chief) could not be the will of the political party" also brought sharp reactions from both Aaditya and Chaturvedi.

“Who then signed on their AB forms (which have to be submitted to the Election Commission by party ticket holders)? If Uddhav Thackeray is not the paksh pramukh and his will is not the will of the party, then why does every Shinde MLA’s AB form carry his signature? Is that acceptable to them and are those forms valid with the signature of someone who is not the party leader?” asked Aaditya. 

But the battle is not yet over. While there are indications that the SS (UBT) will appeal against the verdict, leaders of the party are now girding their loins to descend among the people to seek a correction of the alleged injustice at the grassroots.

“People will show this khokha (a reference to the crores alleged to have been received by the Shinde MLAs) sarkar who the real party is,”  said Aaditya. 

But the sharpest reaction came from party spokesperson Sanjay Raut who asked Narvekar, “Aukat kya hai tumhari (what status do you have)?” and said he had a golden opportunity to go down in history as a fair judge but had completely sold out to the BJP and stabbed Uddhav Thackeray, who had first nurtured him in politics, in the back.

“This is no verdict. It is a conspiracy. We will go to the court but we will also go to the people. Today begins the first day of the decimation of the Shinde faction and a return to the unity of the party under Uddhav Thackeray,” he added.

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