The rebel MLAs of Shiv Sena on Wednesday evening checked out of the Guwahati hotel they have been staying in since June 22, ANI reported. They will reportedly fly to Goa and then travel to Mumbai ahead of the floor test scheduled to be held in the Maharashtra Assembly on Thursday morning.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, is hearing a plea filed by the Shiv Sena against the governor’s decision to call for the floor test.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led government is in the middle of a political crisis that started after minister Eknath Shinde went to Surat with a group of rebel MLAs on June 21. The next day the group moved to a hotel in Guwahati.

The rebel MLAs are demanding that the Shiv Sena should cut ties with its alliance partners – the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. Shinde had said that the rebel MLAs are “even ready to face death” for Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray and his beliefs about Hindutva.

On Wednesday morning, Shinde had said he will reach Mumbai on Thursday to participate in the trust vote, PTI reported. He and two other rebel MLAs visited the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati earlier in the day.

“We are not rebels. We are [the] Shiv Sena,” Shine said upon reaching the Guwahati Airport, according to ANI. “We are carrying forward the agenda and ideology of Balasaheb Thackeray’s Shiv Sena. We will work for the Hindutva ideology and development of the state.”

There is speculation that the Shinde-led faction, along with the Bharatiya Janata Party, might form a new government in the state.

The floor test

Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority on the floor of the House on Thursday amid the political turmoil in the state.

The governor sent a letter to Maharashtra Legislature’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat, calling for a special session at 11 am “with the only agenda of a trust vote” against the chief minister. The letter said that the floor test should conclude by 5 pm.

Soon after the governor’s direction, Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu filed an application in the Supreme Court opposing the move, Live Law reported.

Seven Independent MLAs sent an email to the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai on Tuesday, stating that the chief minister has lost the confidence of the majority on the floor of the House, the governor’s letter said.

The governor also said that the Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis has requested for a floor test.

“The violence unleashed in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra against some of the 39 MLAs including breaking down their offices does pose a threat to their life and also that of the family members,” the governor added. “I am of the opinion that a floor test for proving the majority of the chief minister is imperative to ensure that the government continues to function with the confidence of the House.”

Offices of MLAs Tanaji Sawant in Pune and Mangesh Kudalkar in Mumbai were allegedly vandalised by Shiv Sena members last week, prompting the Maharashtra Police to increase security in the state.

The governor issued a few directions ahead of the floor test, including the deployment of adequate security at the Vidhan Bhavan and arrangement for a live telecast of the House proceedings.

The entire proceeding of the trust vote will be videographed by the Vidhan Sabha secretariat through an independent agency. The video footage will later be submitted to the governor, the letter stated.

Koshyari also said that the voting on Thursday will not be adjourned “for any reason whatsoever”.

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi questioned the governor’s move to order a floor test.

“How can a floor test be asked for when the disqualification of 16 MLA has deferred by the Supreme Court till 11th July?” she asked. “How can these MLAs participate in the floor test till their disqualification status not decided and the other matters for which notice sent is subjudice?”

The Maharashtra Assembly Deputy Speaker Narhari Zirwal has served disqualification notices to 16 rebel legislators.

But, the Supreme Court on Monday granted them relief and asked the rebel MLAs to file responses to their disqualification notices by July 12.

Senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan said the apex court has maintained status quo over the case till July 11, PTI reported.

“The deputy speaker [of the Assembly] will have to recognise the split in the Shiv Sena legislature party,” Chavan said. “The rebel MLAs have to give a letter that they have the support of the two-thirds of the legislature party and that they have merged with another party.”

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut termed the governor’s direction as unlawful, reported PTI.

“If such unlawful activities take place, and if the governor and the BJP trample upon the Constitution, then the SC has to interfere,” Raut said.

He also said that the Raj Bhavan acted at a “jet speed even faster than Rafale” after the BJP met the governor on Tuesday, raising the demand to ask the Thackeray government to prove majority at the earliest.

On Tuesday, Thackeray appealed to the dissident legislators to return to Mumbai saying that it is not “too late”, PTI reported.

“If you return and face me, some way could be found,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by an aide. “As the party president and family head, I still care for you.”

The chief minister’s statement came amid Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s comment that the rebel legislators are “living corpses”. Raut had said that the rebel faction would be sent for a postmortem examination on their return to Mumbai.