Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra.
His decision came after Supreme Court rejected the Shiv Sena’s plea against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision asking the Uddhav Thackeray-led government to face a floor test to prove its majority in the state assembly on Thursday. The test will proceed as scheduled.
In its plea, the Shiv Sena had said that the governor’s order was unlawful as the Supreme Court has not yet decided on the disqualification of 16 rebel MLAs led by minister Eknath Shinde. The rebel MLAs want the Shiv Sena to break its alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.
Meanwhile, rebel MLAs of the Shiv Sena on Wednesday evening left the Guwahati hotel in which they had been sequestered ahead of the floor test in the state Assembly. They are likely to fly to Goa and then travel to Mumbai on Thursday.
The state’s three-member Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government had been thrown into disarray on June 20 when senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde decamped for Surat in neighbouring Gujarat with an undisclosed number of party MLAs. A few days later, the rebels moved to Guwahati in Assam as they decided on their strategy.
Here are some top updates of the day:
10 pm: “I want to express my gratitude to the people of NCP and Congress that they supported me,” says Thackeray. “From Shiv Sena, Anil Parab, Subhash Desai and Aaditya Thackeray, these people were only present when the proposal was passed while NCP and Congress people also supported the proposal.”
9.55 pm: I had come to power in an unexpected manner and I am going out in a similar fashion, says Thackeray. I am not going away forever, I will be here, and I will once again sit in Shiv Sena Bhawan. I will gather all my people.
9.52 pm: Thackeray also resigns as the member of Legislative Council, reports ANI.
9.49 pm: Uddhav Thackeray resigns as the chief minister of Maharashtra.
9.30 pm: Uddhav Thackeray says he is satisfied that his government has officially renamed Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad to Dharashiv, ANI reports.
9.29 pm: Jailed minister Nawab Malik and Nationalist Congress Party leader Anil Deshmukh will be allowed to take part in floor test on Thursday.
9.19 pm: The bench is now hearing the petitions filed by jailed Nationalist Congress Party leaders Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, seeking permission to vote in the floor test in Maharashtra tomorrow, reports Live Law.
9.16 pm: The Bench says it is ordering notice on the petitions. It further says that tomorrow’s floor test proceedings in the Maharashtra Assembly will be subject to the final outcome of the writ petition, reports Live Law.
9.11 pm: Supreme Court rejects Shiv Sena’s plea against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision asking the Uddhav Thackeray-led government to face the floor test tomorrow, Live Law reports.
8.27 pm: The court concludes the hearing and asks for sometime to discuss the matter internally.
8.23 pm: Kaul asks the judges to either defer the floor test for a week or prepone the matter of disqualification pending before the Supreme Court, reports Live Law.
8.19 pm: Singhvi says that if a Floor Test is done tomorrow and then the MLAs are disqualified by the the Speaker, the decision would be irreversible, according to Live Law.
8.15 pm: “Those who believe that the Speaker is only political and the governor can never be political, I tell them, wake up and smell the coffee, don’t live in ivory towers,” says Singhvi.
8.12 pm: Meanwhile, security has been boosted at the Goa hotel and around the hotel where the rebel MLAs would be staying in the coastal state, reports PTI.
The MLAs are expected to land in the night and will head to the five-star hotel in Dona Paula village by road, a distance of 30 km from the airport.
8.07 pm: Mehta concludes his arguments. Singhvi now starts making rejoinders.
“When my left hand is tied from tenth schedule, and the right hand is asked to do floor test, the argument cannot be that the floor test is essential to democracy,’ he adds.
8.03 pm: Mehta says that the deputy speaker gave time of two days for rebel MLAs to reply to the disqualification notices, according to Live Law.
“Now the same person is asking why 24 hours notice for floor test,” he adds.
8.01 pm: Mehta refers to a media report about threats being issued to the rebel MLAs.
“Governor cannot ignore these aspects [while making his decision],” he adds.
7.55 pm: Mehta says that petitioners do not meet the parameters to challenge the governor’s order, reports Live Law.
7.50 pm: “Your lordship asked if the office of the Speaker can be misused when the government loses majority,” Mehta said, according to Live Law. “One can always ask some member to present disqualification petition and I as a Speaker can decide the electoral college. So I will be deciding who will be voting on removal.”
7.49 pm: Singh concludes his hearing. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta starts his submissions on behalf of the governor.
7.46 pm: The court says that if it later finds that the floor test was conducted without authority, the decision can be annulled, reports Live Law.
“It is not an irreversible situation,” the bench adds.
7.39 pm: Senior Advocate Maninder Singh now argues to supplement Kaul’s submissions. He says that the argument of the petitioners is that the governor acted without aid and advice of the ministers.
He argued that there are judgements to show that the aid of ministers is not required for floor test.
7.38 pm: Kaul ends his arguments.
7.35 pm: Kaul tells the court that it is the “hopeless minority” of 14 MLAs who are opposing the Eknath Shinde-led faction, reports Live Law.
7.33 pm: The court asks how many MLAs are in the rebel group and how many of them have been served notices.
Kaul replies that 39 out of the 55 Shiv Sena are part of the dissident group. He adds that 16 of them have been served notices.
7.32 pm: Kaul says the Supreme Court has held that the underlying objective of floor test is to uphold political accountability and political morality, reports Live Law.
7.27 pm: “To sum up my propositions, the Speaker cannot decide at all as per Nabam Rebia [verdict], disqualification and floor test are two distinct fields as per Shivraj Singh Chauhan [ruling],” Kaul adds.
7.19 pm: Kaul says that he was not saying that the governor’s decision is immune from judicial review, reports Live Law.
“But is it that kind of a case where the governor’s decision can be substituted with your lordships?” he asks.
7.08 pm: Kaul criticises Singhvi’s submissions that the governor took the decision to call for a floor test just two days after he recovered from Covid-19, reports Live Law.
“What kind of argument is that governor has recovered from Covid-19 just two days ago?” he asks. “So a person who has recovered from illness should not discharge his constitutional duties?
7.05 pm: At the Supreme Court hearing, Kaul argues that the situation in the state requires a floor test to be conducted and that the governor in his discretion has decided on it.
7 pm: Meanwhile, following a Cabinet meeting, Nationalist Congress Party leader and Maharashtra minister Jayant Patil states that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray thanked all the three parties of the ruling alliance that also includes the Shiv Sena and the Congress for the good work they did in the last two-and-a-half years, reports ANI.
Patil said that the no-trust vote to be held on Thursday will decided if the ruling coalition will end or not.
“CM Uddhav Thackeray further said that he received the support of Congress and NCP but unfortunately he didn’t get the support of his own party’s [Shiv Sena] people,” he adds.
6.50 pm: Can there be a better place in a democracy to determine who is supporting the government than the floor of the House, Kaul asks the Supreme Court.
“The more you delay a floor test, the more damage and violence you do to the Constitution,” he adds. “If you want to prevent horse-trading, the best way to stop is floor test. Why are shying away from this?”
6.45 pm: “It is with a view to obviate illegitimate and unsemly political bargaining in the quest for political power that this Court has consistently insisted upon the convening of a trust vote at the earliest date” - Kaul cited from a Madhya Pradesh Assembly case related to a floor test.
6.31 pm: The court refers to Singhvi’s arguments that that the decision on the disqualification notices are not kept voluntarily pending by the Speaker but have been stopped due to Supreme Court orders.
Kaul replies that his clients approached the court because notices were served to them after they told the deputy Speaker he did not enjoy the majority of the House.
“It is not as if your lordships are interfering with the proceedings,” he adds.
6.37 pm: Kaul says that he has normally seen parties move the court for seeing a trust vote arguing that someone was hijacking their members.
“I have seen everyone keen to take the floor test,” he adds. “I have seldom seen a party so afraid to conduct a floor test.”
6.28 pm: Kaul tells the Supreme Court that it had been settled that a floor test should not be delayed.
“Merely because of pendency of proceedings relating to whether MLA has resigned or 10th schedule is no ground to interdict floor test,” he adds. “The Supreme Court has held both are distinct issues.”
6.24 pm: Citing the Nabam Rebia verdict, Kaul says that till a decision is taken on the question about the Speaker’s removal, disqualification cannot be decided, reports Live Law.
In that case, the Supreme Court had held that Nabam Rebia, who was the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Speaker in 2016, was ineligible to decide on disqualification petitions till the motion seeking his removal was completed.
6.23 pm: Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing rebel MLA Eknath Shinde, begins his arguments.
6.22 pm: “Justice can be done either if the fetter on the Speaker is lifted or if the floor test is deferred,” adds Singhvi as he concludes his argument.
6.18 pm: Singhvi said that the Supreme Court has not given a decision on who the chief whip is, reports Live Law.
“Tomorrow whose whip is to be followed?” he asks. “Those who are subjected to whip of Prabhu will be subjected to the other whip too. They [rebel MLAs] will also issue whip. It will be a piquant situation.”
6.16 pm: Singhvi tells the court that his client had been Shiv Sena’s chief whip before the political crisis began within the party last week. He says that the rebel MLAs have chosen an alternate person to be chief whip and are arguing that Sunil Prabhu is not the one who holds the post.
“Today, Mr Prabhu is chief whip recognised by [the] Speaker,” he adds.
6.04 pm: Singhvi says that none of the other cases related to floor tests interjected with the matter of disqualification.
6 pm: Singhvi tells the Supreme Court that it is not barred from reviewing governor’s decision, reports Live Law.
On Article 361 that protects the president or the governor from being answerable to courts, the advocate says that the Article only only means court will not make governor a party and issue notice to him.
“The personal immunity from answerability under Art 361 does not bar the examiniation of mala fides,” he adds.
5.49 pm: Singhvi says that the MLAs who have defected cannot be considered to represent the will of the people. He asks the Supreme Court to defer the no-trust vote.
“Will heavens fall if there is no floor test tomorrow?” Singhvi asks the court.
5.47 pm: Singhvi said that while the matter of disqualification of the rebel MLAs is being decided by the Supreme Court, how can the governor call for a floor test just after a meeting with the Leader of Opposition.
“Will it not blow 10th schedule to smithereens?” he asks.
5.46 pm: There is no case so where a disqualification proceeding is interdicted by the court and the floor test is announced immediately, says Singhvi, according to Live Law.
5.34 pm: Singhvi tells that the bench that the Supreme Court itself had held in three cases that the act of going to the governor and complaining about one’s party is an act of voluntarily giving up its membership, reports Live Law.
5.32 pm: Singvi reiterates that there has been undue haste and hurry on the matter.
“Governor has to act on the aid and advise of the chief minister,” he says. “Whether he does it or not, he certainly cannot act on the aid and advise of the Leader of Opposition.”
5.29 pm: Singhvi asks that since the Supreme Court has intervened by allowing more time to rebel Shiv Sena MLAs to respond to the disqualification notices, how does it makes sense if a person who would be disqualified as of June 21 would vote on the government, reports Live Law.
5.22 pm: The court asks Singhvi how the floor test depends upon the disqualification matter.
Singhvi replies: “Court has held that disqualification once found by Speaker relates back to the date of disqualification. These MLAs would stand disqualification on 21st when they complained to Speaker. So they cannot be treated as members from that date.”
5.18 pm: Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi argues that the floor test should be held after it is determined who is eligible to vote. The deputy speaker has served disqualification notices to 16 rebel MLAs. The Supreme Court is also hearing a plea against the disqualification notices.
“Suppose the writ petition is dismissed, and Speaker holds them disqualified, how will the Court reverse tomorrow’s floor test?” Singhvi asks.
5.17 pm: Singhvi says the floor test has been scheduled at a super sonic speed.
5.13 pm: Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Shiv Sena’s chief whip Sunil Prabhu, informs the court that two Nationalist Congress Party MLAs are infected from the coronavirus disease and many Congress legislators are abroad.
5.12 pm: The Supreme Court begins hearing on Shiv Sena’s plea against Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision asking the Uddhav Thackeray-led government to face a floor test, reports Live Law.
5.10 pm: Rebel MLAs reach Guwahati airport after leaving from the Radisson Blu hotel.
4.54 pm: Rebel MLAs leave Guwahati hotel, reports ANI. They are likely to travel to Goa ahead of the Maharashtra floor test.
4.44 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and minister Aaditya Thackeray leave their residence for the Cabinet meeting to be held at 5 pm, reports ANI.
4.25 pm: BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar meets state legislature secretariat’s principal secretary Rajendra Bhagwat and urges him to ensure protection to the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs, reports PTI. The rebel MLAs will be returning to Mumbai on Thursday to attend a floor test.
“Clear threats have been given to some MLAs in the state,” Mungantiwar tells reporters. “Democracy has to be protected and hence we requested the officials to ensure necessary measures.”
4.24 pm: Rebel MLAs return to their Guwahati hotel after visiting the Kamakhya Temple.
4.20 pm: Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Deepak Kesarkar tells NDTV that he and other legislators in the Eknath Shinde camp will try to reach near Maharashtra as soon as possible to be able to attend the floor test called at 11 am on Thursday.
The rebel MLAs were planning to move to Goa from the Guwahati resort on Wednesday but it is not clear now if they will go the coastal state.
4.16 pm: Rebel camp releases videos of Shiv Sena MLAs Mahendra Thorve and Bharatshet Gogawale who can be heard saying they were not forced to join Eknath Shinde.
4.10 pm: BJP leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeks Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s help for the Floor Test scheduled for Thursday, reports ANI. Raj Thackeray, the cousin of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has agreed to help the BJP, according to the agency.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has one MLA in the Maharashtra Assembly.
4.07 pm: BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar says it is wrong for a minority government to call a Cabinet meeting, reports ANI. He says doing so is akin to committing a “political sin”.
3.24 pm: The Congress holds a meeting ahead of the floor test, reports ANI. Several party leaders, including Ashok Chavan, Nana Patole, Balasaheb Thorat, Sunil Kedar, Charan Singh Sapra and Nitin Raut are present.
2.43 pm: Uddhav Thackeray will chair a meeting of the Maharashtra Cabinet at 5 pm, ANI reports, citing the chief minister’s office.
2.40 pm: BJP leaders Sudhir Mungantiwar and Pravin Darekar meet deputy speaker at Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan, reports NDTV.
1.36 pm: MLA Eknath Shinde says he will reach Mumbai on Thursday with other rebel legislators for the floor test, reports ANI. Shinde says he is not worried for the floor test as he has 50 MLAs supporting him.
“We will pass all things and no one can stop us,” he adds. “In democracy majority matters and we’re having that” says Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Eknath Shinde in Guwahati.”
1.21 pm: MLAs and Nationalist Congress Party leaders Nawab Malik and Anil Deshmukh, who are lodged in jail, move the Supreme Court seeking permission to vote in the floor test, reports Live Law. The court will hear the plea at 5.30 pm.
12.55 pm: Rebel MLAs led by Eknath Shinde reach Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, reports ANI.
12.31 pm: Maharashtra Independent MLA Rajendra Raut says he has always been a supporter of BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis and will back the party in the floor test, reports ANI
12.19 pm: A special flight will take the rebel MLAs from Guwahati to Goa later today afternoon, reports The Indian Express.
Deepak Kesarkar, the spokesperson of the rebel legislators tells PTI: “We will be staying at a place that is one hour air distance from Mumbai, so that that we can comfortably reach the state capital for the floor test.”
12.17 pm: Rebel Shiv Sena MLAs head towards Guwahati airport from a hotel they were staying in since last week, reports PTI. Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika and other state BJP leaders are accompanying Eknath Shinde and other rebel Maharashtra MLAs.
11.43 am: Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Devendra Fadnavis calls a meeting of his party MLAs at his home later today, reports ANI.
11.35 am: Ahead of the floor test in Maharashtra tomorrow, here is how the numbers stack up:
11.29 am: Rebel Shiv Sena MLA Gulabrao Patil expresses confidence that their faction has the required support to win tomorrow’s floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly, reports ANI.
11.28 am: Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders arrive at the home of Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Devendra Fadnavis, reports ANI.
10.55 am: Justice Surya Kant says the Supreme Court will hear the matter at 5 pm, reports Live Law.
“Floor test is illegal as it cannot include persons facing disqualification,” Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court minutes earlier.
10.25 am: Shiv Sena Chief Whip Sunil Prabhu files an application in the Supreme Court, challenging Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s letter mandating the Uddhav Thackeray-led dispensation to face a floor test tomorrow, reports Live Law.
9.59 am: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut says the party will approach the Supreme Court against the governor’s call to hold a floor test on Thursday, reports ANI.
“This is an unlawful activity as the matter of disqualification of our 16 MLAs is pending in Supreme Court,” he says. “The Governor was waiting for this moment only.”
9.20 am: Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, camping in Guwahati, says he will come to Mumbai tomorrow to participate in the trust vote, reports PTI.
9.10 am: Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asks Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority on the floor of the House tomorrow at 11 am.