Maharashtra minister and Shiv Sena's rebel camp's leader Eknath Shinde on Sunday moved the Supreme Court against the disqualification notice issued by the deputy speaker to him and 15 other rebels, as Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will take action against rebels in a day or two.
Uddhav is running the Maharashtra government under the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, also comprsing of NCP and Congress. On a question on sacking of ministers who have joined Shinde's camp, Pawar said, "This comes within the purview of the chief minister. He will take action in a day or two."
Shinde's plea is likely to be heard by a vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala on Monday. The Maharashtra legislature secretariat on Saturday had issued 'summons' to 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs including Shinde, seeking written replies by the evening of June 27 to the complaints seeking their disqualification. Signed by Rajendra Bhagwat, principal secretary of the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan, the summons were sent to all 16 MLAs named by the Shiv Sena's chief whip Sunil Prabhu in a letter.
Prabhu had earlier asked the rebel MLAs of the Shinde faction to attend a party meeting in Mumbai on Wednesday but none of them turned up. Subsequently, the Sena submitted two letters to the legislature secretariat, seeking disqualification of 16 MLAs including Shinde. The summons issued by Bhagwat on Saturday said that Prabhu had submitted a letter to deputy speaker of the Assembly Narhari Zirwal seeking their disqualification under The Members of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1986.
It said, "In your defense of the summons, you need to submit your written response before 5.30 pm on June 27 (Monday) supported by all the necessary documents. If the written response to the summons is not submitted in a given period, it would be considered as you have no say over it. The office will initiate necessary action based on the complaint filed by Prabhu against you."
The Shinde faction, which claims to have the support of more than two-thirds of Sena MLAs, has contended that Prabhu has been replaced as party whip by Bharat Gogawale.
In Guwahati, sources told PTI that the MLAs were holding meetings since Sunday morning, discussing various options after the notices were issued to them.
NCP chief Pawar ruled out the possibility of imposition of President's Rule in Maharashtra.
He said, "Those who have rebelled want an alternative government in Maharashtra. What is the point of herding so many MLAs from one place to another if you have to impose President's Rule. According to my understanding, there is no possibility of President's Rule. If it happens, there will be elections."
He also dared the rebels to come to Mumbai and prove the numbers in a democratic set-up.
He said, "They claim to have numbers. If they have the numbers, why are they sitting there in Guwahati? Come to Mumbai and prove the numbers in a democratic set-up."
Pawar further said he will support Sena-led MVA "till the end".
"Our policy is clear that we have formed a coalition government and we will support it fully. We will support Uddhav Thackeray till the end. Our commitment is towards a Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray," said Pawar.
Pawar said The Shiv Sena cadre will never digest a different view taken by 40-50 leaders and will stand by Thackeray.
"The Shiv Sena I know will never digest any rebellion. Shiv Sainiks have immense strength and have built the organisation through a lot of efforts. This will have no impact on the organisation. Uddhav Thakceray will emerge victorious," Pawar said.
(With PTI inputs)