Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Friday dared Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to face fresh elections, a day after the Supreme Court verdict on the political crisis that took place in the state last year.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court held that former Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had erred in deciding that the Thackeray government had lost its majority after a group of Shiv Sena MLAs, led by Shinde, revolted in June.
However, the five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud also said that it cannot reinstate the Maha Vikas Aghadi government as Thackeray had resigned as the chief minister without facing a floor test.
Thackeray on Friday reiterated his demand that Shinde should resign “on moral grounds” like he did on June 29.
“I challenge you...let us face fresh elections,” he said. “The Supreme Court has given its decision, and in a democracy, the final court is that of the people. So what is the problem for us in going before the people’s court?”
Thackeray said he does not regret his decision to resign as the chief minister. “Those whom I trusted broke my trust,” he said. “I had no interest in remaining the chief minister with the certificates of such people.”
The former chief minister took note of the court’s remarks that it could have reinstated him as the chief minister if he had not resigned. “This means that the current government is illegal,” he said.
Thackeray urged Assembly Speaker Rahul Narvekar to decide on the disqualification of 16 MLAs, including Shinde, who revolted against him in June.
“The gift of life given to the 16 MLAs is temporary because the Supreme Court has given a ‘reasonable time’, which has its limitations,” Thackeray said. “The Speaker must take his decision at the earliest.”
On June 29, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government comprising the Shiv Sena – then led by Thackeray – the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress fell hours after the Supreme Court refused to stay a vote of no confidence.
Shinde had rebelled against Thackeray, claiming to have the support of 39 of the 55 Shiv Sena MLAs and 10 Independent legislators. Koshyari had later invited him to form the new government.