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Thackeray-led MVA govt passes floor test; BJP MLAs skip voting

Press Trust of India  |  Mumbai 

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance passed the floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly on Saturday.

The BJP, which has 105 MLAs, staged a walkout before head count of members began in the 288-member House.

The boycott was against the "unlawful manner" in which the ministers were sworn in and the House session convened, BJP legislature unit leader Devendra Fadnavis said.

He faced flak from the ruling combine over the move, with former CM Prithviraj Chavan describing Fadnavis, who quit as CM on November 26 before his three-day-old government faced the floor test in the Assembly, as a sore loser.

"Fadnavis ran away from the arena like a sore loser and the country has seen this live on TV," Chavan said.

Altogether 169 MLAs vote in favour of the motion of confidence, moved by former CM Ashok Chavan and seconded by senior NCP and Sena members.

Pro tem Speaker Dilip Walse Patil informed the House that four MLAs abstained during the vote.

They include two from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), one from CPI(M) and a member of the MNS, led by Uddhav's estranged cousin Raj Thackeray.

Claiming that the business transacted in the Assembly ahead of the floor test was in violation of Constitutional norms, the BJP staged a walkout, adding it will raise the issue before Governor B S Koshyari.

Fadnavis objected to replacement of party MLA Kalidas Kolambkar as the pro tem speaker with NCP's Dilip Walse Patil. Such a replacement happened for the first time in the history of India as the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance was scared of losing the floor test, he said in the House.

"Business is being transacted in the House in violation of the Constitution. The session itself is not in line with the rules," Fadnavis told reporters after BJP members staged the walkout.

"Since national anthem was played out after the last session, this means it ended sine die," Fadnavis said.

A summons was required to be issued through the governor to convene a new session but that was not the case, Fadnavis said.

He also claimed that the oath-taking ceremony of Thackeray and six other ministers was also not in line with the rules.

"Someone took Balasaheb Thackeray's name, someone took names of (Congress chief) Sonia (Gandhi) ji and (NCP president Sharad) Pawar Saheb. The oath was not taken as per the given format," Fadnavis added.

On the floor test being conducted on the pro tem speaker's watch, Fadnavis said this was done as the government was scared of losing the trust vote under a regular speaker.

"They were afraid their government will collapse if regular Speaker is there...That's why we walked out. We are going to write to the governor saying the business was not transacted in line with the Constitution," he said.

Uddhav Thackeray, wearing a saffron turban, thanked the House members and people of Maharashtra after the pro tem speaker declared that his government had won the floor test.

"I thank all the members for trusting me. I also thank the people of the state. It is not possible to work without their blessings," he said.

"There was some pressure before coming to the House as I did not have the experience of working in the House but only on the ground. I feel fortunate to be here," he said.

This was 59-year-old Thackeray's first time in the House. Behind him sat his son Aaditya, along with other Sena MLAs, all wearing saffron turbans.

"You (the BJP) felt stung when we named Chhatrapati Shivaji (while taking oath). I will take the name again and again. Those who don't take names of their parents, have no right to live," he said.

"It is not Maharashtra's culture when you think taking name of Chhatrapati Shivaji and parents is a crime," he said.

Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil said Uddhav's swearing-in was illegal as the prescribed format of oath was not adhered to.

Ministers, while taking oath, took names of their leaders and others, which was not as per the protocol, Patil told reporters at the legislature complex here.

A petition is being filed before Governor B S Koshyari against the "illegal" oath-taking ceremony, he said.

Responding to the claims, the NCP accused the BJP of running away from the House after the opposition party staged a walkout before the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government faced a floor test.

The NCP's chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said Walse Patil was appointed as pro-tem Speaker with Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's consent. The session too was convened after Koshyari's approval, he said.

"They wanted some excuse to run away, that's why all this (ruckus). Devendra ji (Devendra Fadnavis) should take lessons from (senior BJP leader) Eknath Khadse on how an opposition leader should work," Malik said.

NCP MP Supriya Sule said the BJP ran away from floor test.

"We are absolutely democratic. We will not stifle their (opposition's) voice. For us, the battle is not personal. We will win their hearts with love," she said.

"Maharashtra never saw vindictive approach. Our government will not work in a vindictive manner...They (the BJP) ran away when the floor test was on," Sule said.

Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan said Fadnavis should have welcomed his successor Uddhav Thackeray with open heart.

"But instead he raised minor technical issues. This was not right," Chavan said.

On Sunday, the Assembly Speaker's election will be held, followed by a motion of thanks on the governor's address in the House.

The ruling alliance has fielded Nana Patole of the Congress for the Speaker's post, while the BJP has put up Kisan Kathore for the post.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, November 30 2019. 18:05 IST
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