The Shiv Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, after winning the majority test in the Maharashtra assembly today, has given a petition to the newly elected Speaker Rahul Narwekar to suspend 16 MLAs of Uddhav Thackeray faction for defying the whip to support the government. The name of Aaditya Thackeray — former minister and the son of Uddhav Thackeray — was however missing. The new chief whip of the faction, Bharat Gogawale, said it was out of “respect”, reported news agency ANI.
“We have given the notice to disqualify all the persons who defied our whip except Aaditya Thackeray. We have not given the name of Aaditya Thackeray due to respect towards Balasaheb Thackeray,” Mr Gogawale was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Shinde faction has claimed it is the real Sena, basing it on the support of over two-thirds of the party MLAs. Even during the vote today, one MLA from the Thackeray camp joined the rebels, pushing up their number to 40. The party has 55 MLAs.
It has also laid claim to party founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s legacy, contending that Uddhav Thackeray has diluted it with his alliance with the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party.
Today, in the 288-member Assembly — effective strength 287 — 164 MLAs voted for the motion of confidence moved by the Eknath Shinde-led government. This was way above the simple majority mark of 144. Only 99 MLAs voted against it.
Altogether, 263 MLAs cast their votes. Three MLAs abstained. Twenty MLAs, mostly from the Congress and the NCP, were absent during the vote.
In the evening, Mr Gogawale gave the petition for disqualification to the Assembly Speaker.
Team Thackeray has filed a legal petition regarding the disqualification of 16 MLAs, which is pending in the Supreme Court. The notice was issued last month by the Deputy Speaker.
They have also filed a fresh petition in the top court challenging the Speaker’s decision to recognise the new party whip of Shiv Sena rebels led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. The court will hear it on July 11.
Eknath Shinde’s rebellion – which erupted on the night of June 20 — had steadily whittled down the numbers of the Uddhav Thackeray faction over two weeks. On Wednesday, Mr Thackeray stepped down from the top post after the Supreme Court said he has to prove a majority on the floor of the house, as ordered by the Governor.
A day later, Mr Shinde was named the Chief Minister in a shock announcement by the BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis. Later in the evening, in a further surprise, Mr Fadnavis — a two-time Chief Minister of Maharashtra — signed up as Mr Shinde’s Deputy following pressure from the BJP brass.