The newly appointed chief minister of Maharashtra, Eknath Shinde, won the floor test in the state assembly today. The Shinde-led government proved the majority in the 288-member house with a 164-99 margin, after forming a coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This comes a day after the BJP’s Rahul Narwekar was elected as the assembly speaker, who subsequently reinstated the incumbent CM’s position as Shiv Sena’s legislative party leader.
The crucial floor test was held amid a special two-day session of the legislative assembly that commenced on Sunday, which cemented Shinde’s position as the CM of the state and the leader of Shiv Sena. 164 MLAs voted in favour of the Shinde-led government, while 99 voted against, and three members abstained from voting. The number of votes needed to prove a majority in today’s floor test was 144, as the current strength of the state assembly is 287, after the recent death of a Shiv Sena MLA. Reportedly, two Congress MLAs, Ashok Chavan and Vijay Wadettiwar did not make it in time and were not allowed to vote. Additionally, Congress MLAs Zeeshan Siddique and Dheeraj Deshmukh, and Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP’s) MLA Dheeraj Deshmukh, who were present for yesterday’s speaker vote did not show up for today’s floor test.
Other members absent for various reasons included the NCP’s Nawab Malik, Anil Deshmukh, Dattatray Vithoba Bharne, Nilesh Dnyandev Lanke, Anna Bansode, Dilip Dattatray Mohite and Baban Shinde. Furthermore, Congress MLAs Praniti Shinde, Ranjit Kamble and Mukta Tilak, Laxman Jagtap from the BJP, and Mufti Ismail Qasmi from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) were also absent.
Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis also spoke at the legislative assembly, congratulating the Shinde government for winning the trust vote. “I thank all members who reposed their faith in Shinde govt. I also thank all those who by staying out of House indirectly helped the BJP-Shinde alliance,” said Fadnavis, allegedly targeting Congress MLAs Chavan and Wadettiwar who did not reach on time for the floor test.
Shiv Sena’s Aditya Thackeray also, reportedly, arrived at the House just minutes before the headcount for the voting began, and walked out with several other Shiv Sena MLAs right after the trust vote ended. Referring to Shinde’s ideology, the deputy CM said that he is a Shiv Sainik “loyal to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology”. The BJP leader also spoke about how the current CM has worked to help the “common man” despite facing police action and jail time, while also talking about how Shinde has been elected fives from the same constituency since 2004.
Furthermore, he praised Shinde for being a good leader, “He used to visit villages personally and take stock of facilities available. He made sure vacancies are filled. That’s why Shinde is such a good leader,” said Fadnavis, adding that the new CM will be “available for people 24/7”.
During his speech, the former CM also announced his comeback as a revenge of those who insulted him. “I have come back and I have got Eknath Shinde with me. Those who insulted me, this is a revenge against them. I have forgiven them. In politics, not everything can be taken to heart,” said Fadnavis. The BJP leader added, “We don’t want power, it is only a way to reach out to people. Power is used to bring a difference in the lives of people. PM Modi had ordered me to become the Deputy CM in this government. I will always support Eknath Shinde as CM and his tenure will be successful. In no way will there be any enmity or power struggle.”
On Sunday evening, amid the special two-day session, NCP leader Sharad Pawar made a statement and said that the Shinde-BJP coalition will fall in the next six months. “The newly formed government in Maharashtra may fall in the next six months, hence all should be ready for mid-term polls,” said Pawar, reportedly, while addressing NCP leaders and others from different parties in Mumbai. He also alleged that many party leaders are “not happy” with the arrangement. “Once the ministerial portfolios are distributed, their unrest will come out, which will ultimately result in the collapse of the government,” said the NCP leader.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the incumbent speaker also removed Ajay Chaudhary as Shiv Sena’s legislative party leader, who was appointed by former CM Uddhav Thackeray to replace the Shiv Sena rebel faction leader Eknath Shinde. Furthermore, he also dismissed Sunil Prabhu from the Thackeray faction as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena, and named Bharat Gogawale as the replacement.
Prior to today’s floor test, newly elected speaker Narwekar’s recognition of Gogawale’s appointment as the chief whip of the Shiv Sena prompted the former CM and his faction to move the Supreme Court, as they believe this changes the status quo. “The speaker has no jurisdiction to recognize whips. This is changing the status quo of proceedings before this court. The speaker yesterday at the stroke of midnight elected the whip,” said Senior Advocate Abhishek Singhvi appearing for the Thackeray camp. Furthermore, he argued that Uddhav Thackeray is still the Shiv Sena official party. The SC bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheswari indicated that the hearing of this plea, along with other pending ones, will be held on July 11.
On the other hand, Gogawale has also submitted a petition to the Maharashtra Assembly speaker, calling for the suspension of 16 Shiv Sena MLAs from the Thackeray faction, for the violation of whip.