The Uddhav Thackeray-led ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’ government passed the much anticipated floor test in the Maharashtra assembly on Saturday (November 30), securing 169 votes, while the opposition BJP staged a walk-out citing violation of rules and procedures.
Altogether 169 MLAs voted in favour of the motion of confidence moved by former CM Ashok Chavan and seconded by senior NCP and Sena members.
Four MLAs abstained from voting during the floor test, pro tem speaker Dilip Walse Patil informed the House. They include two from the AIMIM, and one each from the CPI(M) and the Raj Thackeray-led MNS.
Fadnavis cites violation of rules
Claiming that the business transacted in the Assembly ahead of the floor test was in violation of Constitutional norms, the BJP, with its 105 MLAs, staged a walkout, adding it will raise the issue before Governor BS Koshyari.
Speaking to reporters outside the assembly, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that the assembly proceedings was not conducted as per rules. He objected to the replacement of party MLA Kalidas Kolambkar as the pro tem speaker with Patil and said such a replacement happened for the first time in the history of India.
“This session was unconstitutional. The oath taken by the ministers was also invalid. There is a proper procedure for all this,” he claimed. “They (Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition) were afraid they will lose the speaker’s elections and they don’t trust their MLAs.”
Questioning the logic behind changing the speaker ahead of the floor test Fadnavis said, “Once the protem speaker is appointed, he cannot be removed until the speaker is chosen. Without the election of the speaker floor test cannot be conducted.”
“If they had 170 MLAs to back them, why did they change the speaker? The pro tem speaker will be in charge until a speaker is appointed. They are afraid if voting through secret ballot was conducted, they will fail the floor test and that is why all rules are blatantly flouted,” added Fadnavis.
He further claimed that the oath-taking ceremony of Thackeray and six other ministers was also not in line with the rules. “Someone took Balasaheb Thackeray’s name, someone took names of (Congress chief) Sonia (Gandhi) ji and (NCP president Sharad) Pawar Saheb. The oath was not taken as per the given format,” Fadnavis added.
He faced flak from the ruling combine over the move, with former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan describing Fadnavis, who quit as the chief minister on November 26 before his three-day-old government faced the floor test in the Assembly, as a sore loser. “Fadnavis ran away from the arena like a sore loser and the country has seen this live on TV,” Chavan said.
Uddhav Thackeray, wearing a saffron turban, thanked the House members and people of Maharashtra after the pro tem speaker declared that his government had won the floor test.
“I thank all the members for trusting me. I also thank the people of the state. It is not possible to work without their blessings,” he said.
“There was some pressure before coming to the House as I did not have the experience of working in the House but only on the ground. I feel fortunate to be here,” Thackeray said.
This was 59-year-old Thackeray’s first time in the House. Behind him sat his MLA-son Aaditya, along with other Sena MLAs, all wearing saffron turbans.
“You (the BJP) felt stung when we named Chhatrapati Shivaji (while taking oath). I will take the name again and again. Those who don’t take names of their parents, have no right to live,” he said. “It is not Maharashtra’s culture when you think taking name of Chhatrapati Shivaji and parents is a crime.”
Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said Uddhav’s swearing-in was illegal as the prescribed format of oath was not adhered to. Ministers, while taking oath, took names of their leaders and others, which was not as per the protocol, Patil told reporters. A petition is being filed before Governor B S Koshyari against the “illegal” oath-taking ceremony, he said.
Responding to the claims, the NCP accused the BJP of running away from the House after the opposition party staged a walkout before the Uddhav Thackeray-led government faced a floor test. The party’s chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said Dilip Walse Patil was appointed as pro-tem Speaker with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s consent. The session too was convened after Koshyari’s approval, he said.
“They wanted some excuse to run away, that’s why all this (ruckus). Devendra ji (Devendra Fadnavis) should take lessons from (senior BJP leader) Eknath Khadse on how an opposition leader should work,” Malik said.
NCP MP Supriya Sule said the BJP ran away from floor test. “We are absolutely democratic. We will not stifle their (opposition’s) voice. For us, the battle is not personal. We will win their hearts with love,” she said.
Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan said Fadnavis should have welcomed his successor Uddhav Thackeray with open heart. “But instead he raised minor technical issues. This was not right,” Chavan said.
On Sunday, the Assembly Speaker’s election will be held, followed by a motion of thanks on the governor’s address in the House. The ruling alliance has fielded Nana Patole of the Congress for the Speaker’s post, while the BJP has put up Kisan Kathore for the post.
(With inputs from agencies)