Maharashtra CM Thackeray quits

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Eknath Shinde, who led the rebels, is likely to be sworn in as deputy chief minister with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister even as the contours of power-sharing remain unclear…reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that Maharashtra’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government will have to face a floor test in the Assembly scheduled on Thursday.

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala refused to interfere with the Governor’s direction to the MVA government to prove its majority in the Assembly on June 30.

“We are not staying the floor test. We are issuing notice… you can file a counter,” it said.

However, soon after its verdict, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced his resignation, making the issue academic.

The top court had also said it will hear the matter on merits along with other cases on July 11, and the result of Thursday’s test will depend on the final outcome of this petition.

“We do not find any ground to stay convening of the Special Session of the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha on June 30, i.e, tomorrow at 11 a.m. with the only agenda of a trust vote; The proceedings of the trust vote to be convened on June 30 shall be subject to the final outcome of the instant Writ Petition as well the Writ Petitions referred to above,” said the top court, in its order.

“The Special Session of the Maharashtra Vidha Sabha shall be conducted in accordance with the directions as contained in the communication dated June 28, of theAA Governor of Maharashtra.”

After a marathon hearing of more than 3 hours, the bench had reserved its order on the plea by Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu, challenging the Maharashtra Governor’s direction to prove its majority in the House on Thursday.

In a related development, the top court had also allowed Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik and former Anil minister Deshmukh, who are imprisoned in money laundering cases, to be escorted by the CBI/ED to the Assembly to cast their votes in the floor test.

During the hearing on Prabhu’s plea, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing him, contended that it won’t be proper to have a floor test while tying the Speaker’s hands and urged the court to either allow the Speaker to decide the disqualification proceedings or defer the floor test.

He urged the top court to balance the equities and defer the floor test by a week, seeking either the Speaker be allowed to decide the disqualification proceedings, or to advance the hearing in the matter.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the rebel MLAs, submitted that the top court, in its judgments, had said the disqualification proceedings against the MLAs have no bearing on the floor test in the House.

“We are the Shiv Sena and we represent the Shiv Sena (not the other minority),” he said, telling the court that there are 39 dissident MLAs, out of which 16 have been served with disqualification notices as he emphasised that “the dance of democracy takes place on the floor of the house”.

He said that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is in a “hopeless minority within the party itself, forget the house” and submitted that the best way to prevent horse-trading is to conduct the floor test.

Senior advocates Kaul and Siddharth Bhatnagar, assisted by advocates Abhikalp Pratap Singh and Utsav Trivedi, appeared for 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs. Senior advocate Maninder Singh represented Eknath Shinde.

Focus shifts to BJP

Uddhav Thackeray’s resignation as the Maharashtra chief minister on Wednesday after the Supreme Court refused to stall a floor test that the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government appeared set to lose has shifted the focus to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is expected to form the next government with the support of 39 rebel Shiv Sena lawmakers.

Eknath Shinde, who led the rebels, is likely to be sworn in as deputy chief minister with BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis as the chief minister even as the contours of power-sharing remain unclear. Fadnavis lost power in 2019 after the Shiv Sena walked out of a pre-poll alliance with the BJP and formed a government in alliance with Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Fadnavis told his followers he will be back after his exit from power around three years earlier. Thackeray’s resignation culminated Fadnavis’s campaign to topple the MVA government.

The battle for the Sena is separately expected to play out before the Election Commission as the Shinde has maintained it is the Shiv Sena. It remains to be seen how many Sena Members of Parliament back the Shinde faction, which has 39 of the party’s 55 lawmakers in the state assembly.

Shinde on Wednesday reiterated that they are not rebels and remain Shiv Sainiks while pledging to carry forward Sena founder Bal Thackeray’s agenda and Hindutva ideology.

Thackeray maintained he was not going anywhere either and will meet Shiv Sainiks at Sena Bhavan and rebuild the party with new blood. He insisted the Shiv Sena will remain the same and nobody can take it away from them. Thackeray said he was not going away forever and will be around to gather all his people. He said his family does not run after power or stick to power and added he was not scared.

Thackeray said he came unexpectedly and was going similarly. He hit out at the rebels saying he sinned by trusting the party colleagues. Thackeray said the Central forces were deployed to prevent Shiv Sainiks from protesting while asking his party workers not to stop the rebels.

ALSO READ-‘Thackeray offered CM post to Shinde in May’

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