The newly formed Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra won a vote of confidence in the state Assembly comfortably on Saturday afternoon after a walkout by the Bharatiya Janata Party in protest against the procedure followed in the special session, ANI reported.
The ruling alliance, which also comprises the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress, got 169 votes in the 288-member Assembly. Four MLAs – two of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and one each of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena – abstained from voting. The 105 MLAs from the BJP walked out of the House.
BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, the predecessor of new Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, claimed the session did not begin with the singing of the national song and the ministers of the new Cabinet had not taken oath in accordance with norms. He also said there had never been a trust vote in the past before a permanent Speaker had been elected. This was followed by an uproar by the BJP MLAs.
Pro tem Speaker Dilip Walse Patil, however, said the session was being conducted according to norms and with the permission of Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. He held the floor test through a head count after the BJP walked out.
Patil belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party and was appointed the pro tem Speaker on Friday by the new government, replacing Kalidas Kolambkar of the BJP who administered oath to the MLAs earlier this week. Kolambkar himself had been a non-permanent Speaker, appointed on Tuesday hours before Fadnavis’s four-day-old government collapsed.
“They were afraid that their government will collapse if regular Speaker is there,” Fadnavis told reporters outside the Assembly. “That is why we staged a walkout. We are going to write to the Governor saying the business was not transacted in line with the Constitution.”
Thackeray and six ministers – Eknath Shinde and Subhash Desai from the Sena, NCP leaders Chhagan Bhujbal and Jayant Patil, and Congress leaders Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut – took oath on Thursday. The BJP has claimed that the ministers used names of their leaders and other figures while taking oath. To this, Thackeray said in the House: “Yes, I took oath in name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and also in name of my parents. If this is an offence then I will do it again.”
Fadnavis said: “Someone took Balasaheb Thackeray’s name [during the oath ceremony], someone took names of [Congress chief] Sonia [Gandhi] ji and [NCP chief Sharad] Pawar Saheb’s name. The oath has to be taken as mentioned in the pro forma.”
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said the BJP “wanted some excuse to run away”, PTI reported. “Devendra ji should take lessons from [senior BJP leader Eknath] Khadse on how an Opposition leader should work,” he said.
The Assembly Speaker and the leader of Opposition will be appointed on Sunday, following which Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari will address a joint session of both Houses. Nana Patole is the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi’s candidate for the Speaker’s post, while the BJP has nominated Kisan Kathore for the post.
The new ruling coalition was formed after former allies BJP and the Shiv Sena could not reach a power-sharing agreement following Assembly elections in October. The Shiv Sena had won 56 seats, and along with the NCP’s 54 MLAs and the Congress’s 44, it was able to form a government.