BJP walks out, remaining 4 abstain; CM wins confidence vote
The Uddhav Thackeray-led “Maha Vikas Aghadi” (MVA) on Saturday romped home in the confidence vote in the Maharashtra Assembly, securing the support of all present 169 MLAs in the 288-member House, after the Opposition BJP staged a walk out of the House over procedural issues.
In the much-awaited floor test that Protem Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil conducted it through head count, the MVA polled 169 votes in its favour and zero votes against it. Four members — two belonging to the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) MLAs, one each to the Raj Thackeray-led MNS and CPM legislator — chose to stay neutral by abstaining from voting.
After the head count, the Protem Speaker declared that Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA had won the floor test.
Earlier, after former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan had moved a resolution expressing confidence in the MVA Government, NCP leader Jayant Patil, Shiv Sena’s Sunil Prabhu and other ruling MVA leaders seconded it.
The Protem Speaker said that he had preferred to conduct the floor test through head count in place of secret ballot which the Supreme Court recommended against in its interim judgment on the plea filed by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress combine against the Maharashtra Governor’s decision to swear-in Devendra Fadnavis as the Chief Minister.
Thanking the members for reposing confidence in him and his Cabinet, Uddhav, sporting a saffron turban, said, “Apart from all the members in the House who have reposed confidence in me, I would like to thank the people of Maharashtra. Without the blessing of the people, I can’t govern this State. It is for the first time that I have come to this House. It is my fortune that I have come here.”
“When I came here after taking the blessing of Chhatrapati Shivaji, I had anxiety and trepidation as to how should I conduct myself in the House. I am a man from the field. I have not so far had any legislative experience. After coming here, I felt that I would be better off in the field. I will not fight with empty benches (by then the BJP had walked out of the House). Let me make it clear: I am not the one to indulge in sword fight in an open and empty field,” he said.
Taking a swipe at former CM Fadnavis for objecting to him and ministerial colleagues making references to Chhatrapati Shivaji, Mahatma Phule and BR Ambedkar during the oath-taking ceremony held on Thursday evening, he said, “We all say in our speeches that Maharashtra is the land of Chhatrapati, Phule, Shahu and Ambedkar, but we have no regard for these leaders. What is wrong taking oath in the name of Shivaji.”
He said, “I have taken the oath in the name of Chhatrapati. I will do it again. If it is a crime to take oath in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji, I will take such an oath ten times…”.
Behind Uddhav, his son Uddhav was sitting with another MLA, both wearing saffron turbans.
Going by the figures thrown up by the floor test, it is now established that the BJP has a combined strength of 115 members – 105 members of its own and 10 MLAs supporting it – in the 288-member House, as against a comfortable majority of 169 MLAs enjoyed by the MVA, a front comprising the Shiv Sena (56 MLAs), NCP (54), Congress (44) and allies (15).
Earlier, as soon as the proceedings began in the State Assembly at 2 pm, the BJP’s legislature party leader and former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis raised at least three points of procedure and said that the special session convened by the MVA Government was both “illegal” and “unconstitutional” as it was being held in the absence of a notification issued by the Governor convening the special session.
“On November 27, when Assembly session was held to facilitate new MLAs take oath as members, it started with ‘Vande Mataram’ and got concluded with National Anthem. It means that session is adjourned sine die,” Fadnavis said.
“If Government wanted to call a new session, the Hon’ble Governor should have issued a formal notification and convened. We got the message about today’s session at 1 am today,” Fadnavis said, while questioning the very validity of the special session.
Fadnavis also questioned the legality of appointment of Walse-Patil as the Protem Speaker in place of the earlier appointed protem Speaker Kalidas Kolumbkar of the BJP. Once appointed Protem Speaker continues till the regular Speaker gets elected. But, the MVA Government changed the Protem Speaker. This has happened for the first time in the legislative history of India. At every step, the MVA Government is trampling upon the Constitution”.
On the twin issues of the convening of the special session, the ruling BJP members rushed to the well of the Houses by raising slogans like “Nahi chalegi, nahi chalegi Dadagiri nahi chalegi”. They tried to disrupt Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as he was introducing six of his newly-sworn in Ministers — Eknath Shinde, Subhash Desai (both from the Shiv Sena), Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal (both from the NCP), Balasaheb Thorat and Nitin Raut (both from the Congress) — to the House.
Fadnavis also questioned the “unconstitutional” manner in which Uddhav Thackeray and six Ministers of the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress prefaced the format of the oath with references to Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji, their late Bal Thackeray, Sonia Gandhi and Sharad Pawar, at the swearing-in ceremony held at the Shivaji Park on Thursday evening. He demanded that the swearing-in ceremony organised by the MVA Government be held “illegal” and a fresh oath be taken by the chief minister and six ministers.
Protem Speaker Walse-Patil rejected the point of procedure raised by Fadnavis in the matter relating to the convening of the Session, by saying that the State Government had powers to reconvene the Session within seven days after it was adjourned sine die. “The member (Fadnavis) should note that the Governor had not prorogued the Session. Hence, based on the recommendation by the state government, the Governor reconvened the special Session. There is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about the convened Session,” the Protem Speaker said.
Sunday, 01 December 2019 | TN RAGHUNATHA | Mumbai
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