Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray comfortably won the vote of confidence in the Legislative Assembly on Saturday. The Maha Vikas Aghadi government got 169 votes, including the votes of 16 MLAs from smaller parties, and Independents.
The BJP, led by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, walked out before the vote, claiming that the session had been called illegally. Fadnavis also objected to the oath taken by Ministers, and the government’s move to replace the pro tem Speaker.
The trust vote took place within half-an-hour of the beginning of proceedings in the House. The Congress’s Ashok Chavan moved the motion, which was seconded by the NCP’s Nawab Malik and Jayant Patil, and the Shiv Sena’s Sunil Prabhu. The Sena’s 56 MLAs, the Congress’s 44, and the NCP’s 53 MLAs voted for the motion. The NCP’s Dilip Walse Patil, who was appointed pro tem Speaker, could not vote.
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Of the 16 MLAs who supported the government, three were from the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi, two each from the Prahar Janshakti Party and Samajwadi Party, and one each from the Swabhimani Paksha, the Peasants and Workers Party, and the Krantikari Shetkari Party.
Six Independent MLAs too, voted for the government. No votes were cast against the motion after the BJP and its supporting parties walked out before the headcount began. Four MLAs — two from the MIM, and one each from the MNS and the CPM — abstained.
Fadnavis alleged that the session had been called in violation of norms. “For a new session, summons need to be issued by the Governor. The message was given to BJP legislators at 1 am on Saturday. Was that done to ensure that BJP legislators could not reach for the trust vote? This session is not as per the Constitution,” Fadnavis said.
Fadnavis also questioned the replacement of pro tem Speaker Kalidas Kolambkar of the BJP with Walse Patil ahead of the floor test. “Once appointed, the pro tem Speaker continues till the regular Speaker is elected. But for the first time in the history of India, the pro tem Speaker was changed. Also, in the history of the Maharashtra Assembly, the trust vote has not happened before the election of the Speaker. At every step, our great Constitution is being insulted by this government,” he said.
Fadnavis also faulted the session for beginning without the ceremonial singing of ‘Vande Mataram’, and the procedure that Chief Minister Thackeray and six Ministers followed while taking oath.
“Someone took Balasaheb Thackeray’s name, someone took the name of Sonia Gandhi and Pawar Saheb’s name. The oath has to be taken as mentioned in the pro forma,” he told reporters outside the Assembly.
Walse Patil said that the Governor had given all permissions. “The incident about oath-taking happened outside the Assembly. It is related to the Governor’s office. I don’t want to comment. The new government has the right to name the pro tem Speaker. The new Cabinet gave my name to the Governor, who appointed me as pro tem Speaker,” he said.
Minister Jayant Patil asked why Fadnavis and the BJP had a “grudge” against Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. “When something good happens in our life, we take the name of deities, and of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The names of Shivaji Maharaj, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule were taken. Then what was the reason for Fadnavis and the BJP to get so angry? Why do they have a grudge against these personalities? It’s not just today; they have had this grudge for generations, and that anger has come out now,” he said.
Minister Chhagan Bhujbal said many MPs have used words such as “Jai Shri Ram” in Parliament. “If oaths are going to be cancelled due to this, then the entire Parliament has to be dissolved,” Bhujbal said.
After winning the trust vote, Thackeray thanked the House, and the people of the state. “I have taken the oath in the name of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and also in the name of my parents. If this is a crime, I will do it again and again. This is not the culture of Maharashtra. We should make Maharashtra such that the names of the people we took while taking oath, would have been proud,” he said.