If there were doubts raised on why Congress legislators did not react strongly and speedily during the controversial trust vote for the Devendra Fadnavis government Wednesday, the party has now decided to gloss over those with an all-new aggression against the BJP.
Sniffing an opportunity in the disquiet against the apparent lack of transparency in the voice vote, the party has decided to strategically target BJP for what it calls an unconstitutional move on the floor of the Assembly. MPCC chief Manikrao Thakre said the Congress was examining all aspects of the trust vote, adding that the party would soon come out with a specific course of action to “seek justice” and “ensure the upholding of Constitutional provisions”.
With its 121 MLAs and 14-odd MLAs from among the Independents and smaller parties, the BJP would fall short of the 145-mark in the Vidhan Sabha without the support of the NCP. Congress leaders Thursday said the strategy was not really to question the numbers the BJP claimed to have on the floor of the house, but a ploy to put the BJP on the mat for having accepted the active or latent support of the NCP.
Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the party was extremely unhappy with the lack of transparency in the voice vote procedure.
“The hypocrisy of the BJP regarding the NCP is totally exposed. The BJP owes an answer to the people of Maharashtra,” Chavan said. He added that the party’s strategy was now to be an extremely active Opposition party, but not one that was obstructionist. “We will support policies and decisions that are for the welfare of the people,” he said.
At least part of the Congress’s protest is only posturing, leaders accept. “Nobody wants a poll, but let the BJP admit that it doesn’t have the mandate without the support of a party they termed the Naturally Corrupt Party,” said a former minister.
With the Shiv Sena’s objective appearing muddy, with the party expecting to join the government till as late as Tuesday night before the trust vote, the Congress finds itself gifted with a windfall opportunity to occupy the space of the most belligerent and coherent Opposition. It also appeared that the highly faction-ridden party somehow got its act together through Wednesday and Thursday. While politicians, media and Vidhan Bhavan staff saw the unlikely sight of senior Congress leaders, including Chavan who seemed distinctly uncomfortable in the role, squatting on the steps of the Vidhan Bhavan and shouting slogans, the party appeared to have put its various internal differences aside for now.
Rajya Sabha MP and former Planning Commission member Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar said the point of contention was that the voice vote procedure itself was not completed correctly. “The Speaker must hear those who say they support the motion, and must then ask to hear those who oppose the motion. The Speaker failed to do the latter and declared the trust vote passed by voice vote,” he said.
Mungekar said Thakre would lead a delegation to Governor C Vidyasagar Rao Friday. He said the Congress would ask for the BJP to prove its majority on the floor of the House. “Note carefully, I am not asking for a second trust vote, our contention is that the trust vote and voice vote procedure was never completed and should now be done correctly,” he said, adding any declaration of support by any party at any time outside the House was immaterial in a trust vote, which mandated that this support be shown on the floor of the House.