Battling the political crisis faced by the party-led MVA government in Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has filed a petition before the Deputy Speaker of the state assembly seeking the cancellation of membership of 12 rebel MLAs including Eknath Shinde for "not attending" legislative party meeting held on Wednesday.
Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant told ANI that a notice had been issued before the meeting which said that if an MLA does not attend the meeting, legal action will be taken. "We've filed a petition before the Deputy Speaker (of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly) and demanded that the membership of 12 (MLAs) should be cancelled as they didn't attend yesterday's meeting," Sawant said.
"Before the meeting notice was issued in which it was said that if you didn't attend the meeting then legal action will be taken as per the constitution. Some didn't come and some gave unnecessary reasons," he added. Apart from Shinde, Shiv Sena has sought disqualification of Prakash Surve, Tanaji Sawant, Mahesh Shinde, Abdul Sattar, Sandeep Bhumare, Bharat Gogawale, Sanjay Shirsat, Yamini Yadhav, Anil Babar, Balaji Devdas and Lata Chaudhari. The petition has been filed by Ajay Choudhari, who was appointed "legislative party leader" after Shinde was "removed" from the post by the Shiv Sena. Shiv Sena's Chief Whip, Sunil Prabhu had issued a letter to party MLAs, asking them to be present in the meeting.
The letter stated that if someone remains absent, it will be considered that the said MLA has decided to quit the party voluntarily. The letter also warned that if any MLA remains absent from the meeting without proper reason and prior information, they should keep in mind that action will be initiated to cancel their membership as per constitutional provisions. However, the Shinde camp has written to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari stating that Shinde continues to be the legislative party leader.
Shinde camp has claimed the support of 46 MLAs, which includes 37 Shiv Sena MLAs and nine independents. The rebel MLAs are at a hotel in Guwahati and held a meeting on Thursday authorising Shinde to decide on the further course of action. The resolution, adopted on Tuesday by rebel MLAs, said that Shinde was unanimously elected as leader of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party in 2019 and continues to be the leader of the legislative party. Amid the continuing turf war within Shiv Sena, the Shinde faction also said that Bharat Gogawale has been appointed as Chief Whip of the party.
The three legislators who arrived in Guwahati on Thursday include Agriculture Minister Dada Bhuse, MLA Sanjay Rathore and MLC Ravindra Phatak. Phatak is believed to be a close associate of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray who had sent him as an emissary to Surat where the rebel MLAs were lodged.