Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, still firmly in a stunted Team Thackeray, said today that the MPs who switch to the rival faction led by Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde “will violate the constitution”.
Of the 19 Lok Sabha members elected on the bow and arrow symbol of Shiv Sena, 12 may soon form a separate group – a situation not much different from that in the state assembly, where Uddhav Thackeray’s government was ousted by a mutiny in the Sena last month.
Sawant acknowledged the strength of the rebels that can help circumvent the anti-defector law — “about two-thirds MPs” — but said Team Thackeray has the “moral and legal position” in its favor. “These MPs have acted in a way that is unconstitutional and unethical,” he told DailyExpertNews.
#BreakingViews | “From the formation of the government, Maharashtra’s governor has violated all norms”: Arvind Sawant (@AGSawant), Lok Sabha MP, Shiv Sena#DailyExpertNewsExclusivepic.twitter.com/2tCY7Ky8x4
— DailyExpertNews (@ndtv) July 19, 2022
“Even if they have the required strength by law… Yes, they don’t get disqualified; but they don’t become the party itself. The rules are they have to merge with another party if they want to stay as a member,” he stressed. “This is why whatever happened in the Maharashtra assembly is wrong.”
He said the Center’s ruling BJP, which supported Eknath Shinde, is in charge: “Everyone knows why these people are leaving us. everything.”
Pro-Shinde MPs have already written to Speaker Om Birla to name Mumbai South-Central MP Rahul Shewale as the Sena leader in the House. Mr Shewale has said the bid is not to split the party but “just to elect a new leader”.
This group can also appoint a Chief Whip, i.e. the leader who is authorized to issue binding instructions to party MPs. Yavatmal MP Bhavana Gawli is likely to take the job, which she technically already holds, although Uddhav Thackeray – who officially remains the party boss – had announced her removal. The Speaker has not yet approved that removal. So if Ms. Gawli becomes Chief Whip, maybe nothing needs to change on paper.
As the math stands now, the Shinde faction dominates the party founded by Uddhav Thackeray’s father, Bal Thackeray. Most of the MLAs are already with Eknath Shinde, and now he is on his way to take the MPs away. As to who the real Shiv Sena is, that is the crux of several legal battles. Taking away the majority of MLAs and MPs gives the Shinde camp a head start in legislative houses. But it will also have to gather support within the party units before it can run away from the bow and arrow.