Shiv Sena Split Reaches Boiling Point: Thackeray Accuses Speaker of Bias, Awaits Verdict on Shinde’s Fate

The battle for control of the Shiv Sena reached a fever pitch on January 9th, as former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray lashed out at Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar, accusing him of bias and impropriety ahead of the much-anticipated verdict on disqualification petitions against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his rebel MLAs. The verdict, expected on January 10th, promises to be a decisive moment in the ongoing saga that has split the once-united party.

Thackeray Raises Concerns of Impartiality:

Uddhav Thackeray, now head of the Shiv Sena (UBT) faction, expressed grave reservations about the fairness of the upcoming verdict, citing a recent private meeting between Speaker Narwekar and Chief Minister Shinde. “Since the Supreme Court’s direction to the Speaker to give a judgment on the disqualification case, Mr. Narwekar has twice met with CM Shinde in private. It is like the judge meeting the accused. If he is doing that, then there is a serious question over the kind of justice we can expect,” declared Thackeray, casting aspersions on Narwekar’s impartiality.

He further raised concerns about delays in announcing the verdict, hinting at possible maneuvering by the Speaker. “The apex court had directed the Speaker to give judgment within a reasonable time frame. It had given December 31 as the deadline… But the manner in which the hearing has proceeded smacks of delaying tactics,” Thackeray alleged, suggesting Narwekar might be dragging his feet to buy time for the Shinde faction.

Thackeray vs. Narwekar: A War of Words:

Uddhav Thackeray

The Shiv Sena (UBT) submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, objecting to the meeting between Narwekar and Shinde, arguing that it violated legal principles and raised doubts about fairness. Narwekar, however, dismissed the accusations as baseless attempts to pressure him. “Such statements are being uttered only to put pressure on me… Nowhere is it said that the Speaker cannot do any other tasks when this process [adjudicating on disqualification petitions] was on,” he countered, emphasizing his ability to fulfill his duties while attending to other matters.

Narwekar further defended his meeting with Shinde, calling it necessary to address crucial developmental issues related to his constituency. “It was very important to meet the CM on a number of developmental issues in my constituency,” he clarified, adding that he had met with representatives from both Sena factions over the past year.

Shinde Exudes Confidence, BJP Expresses Hope:

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde remained unfazed by the accusations, asserting his faith in the legal system and the Speaker’s judgment. “We have not done anything illegal. Our government was established as per rights given in the Constitution,” he stated, reiterating his claim to the legitimate leadership of the Shiv Sena.

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, representing the BJP, echoed Shinde’s confidence, expressing hope for a just verdict. “The [Eknath Shinde-led] Shiv Sena’s defence is strong. We have set up a legal government. I have full hope that we will get justice in the Speaker’s verdict,” Fadnavis declared, backing the Shinde faction.

A Legacy at Stake:

The upcoming verdict carries immense weight, not just for the immediate political fortunes of the two Sena factions but also for the future of the party itself. Thackeray’s legacy as the son of party founder Balasaheb Thackeray hangs in the balance, while Shinde’s ambition to claim the mantle of true Shiv Sena leader will be put to the test.

With tempers flaring and accusations flying, the fate of the Shiv Sena rests on the shoulders of Speaker Narwekar. His verdict, due on January 10th, will either heal the internal rift or plunge the party further into turmoil. The future of Maharashtra’s political landscape hangs in the balance, waiting for the gavel to fall.

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