In Uddhav Thackeray, we trust
Maharashtra's new CM wins trust vote of Maha Vikas Aghadi's 169 MLAs; BJP accuses cabinet of violations, stages walkout
CM Uddhav Thackeray won the trust vote with 169 MLAs on the Maha Vikas Aghadi's side, even as Opposition party, the BJP, disputed his and his ministers' oath. The BJP also alleged that the new government had violated the Constitution by calling the special session to prove majority and changing the pro tem Speaker.
The sitting on Saturday began on a stormy note with both sides raising slogans. When the Speaker was about to begin the proceedings, former CM Devendra Fadnavis rose to question the validity of the special session and the oaths. He said the calling of the sitting was a violation of the rules of the House because the last special session had concluded and for the new one, the Governor should have issued summons. He also said this particular session should have begun with the recital of Vande Mataram.
"The Assembly starts with Vande Matram and ends with the national anthem, when it is called off," he said, adding that a pro tem Speaker was changed for the first time in the history of the country, and the same official was also asked to conduct a trust vote in violation of the Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan's tradition.
Fadnavis accused the government of keeping the convention a hush-hush matter, because the Opposition was told about it after midnight. "Why so much hurry when you have 170 MLAs with you? Why wasn't a summon for fresh sittings issued ?" he asked.
The former CM, who is expected to take up the role of Opposition leader, said that while taking oath too, the CM and ministers had violated a prescribed constitutional format. "Even the ministers' introduction by the CM is invalid." He was making references to invoking the likes of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, late Bal Thackeray, late Anand Dighe, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Sharad Pawar, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Gautam Buddha. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had also expressed his displeasure over the overall conduct of the leaders during the Shivaji Park ceremony. The BJP has also submitted a complaint to the governor in this regard.
Pro tem Speaker Dilip Walse-Patil dismissed all the allegations saying that the governor and the government had followed all rules. "I must remind the House of the Supreme Court's interim order [in the Devendra Fadnavis trust vote]. As far as oath is concerned, the incident has happened outside the Vidhan Bhavan. I will not make any statement about it."
While the speaker went ahead with the proceedings, the BJP created a ruckus by entering the well of the House. They banged the staff desk, raised slogans, "Dadagiri Nahin Chalegi," as the designated members tabled the resolution to support the Thackeray cabinet and government.
Furious, BJP walked out before the speaker asked for the division of votes. Subsequent exercise proved that 169 MLAs of the Shiv Sena, Congress-NCP, smaller parties and independents were with the Maha Vikas Aghadi. The Aghadi had lived up to its promise of a head count of 170, if the pro tem Speaker, an NCP legislator, was also counted. Four MLAs from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (1), AIMIM (2) and CPI-M (1) remained neutral in the vote.
CM slams the BJP
In his thank you speech, Thackeray slammed the BJP. "It hurt them when we invoked Chhatrapati Shivaji and Balasaheb. If invoking parents, deities and revered figures is a crime, I will commit that crime again and again." he said adding "I came to the House for the first time with a feeling of being under pressure. I thought it was better off outside, but what I saw here was shocking. I see the field [Opposition benches] empty, but I don't play on empty grounds. I like to face them head on."
The CM said the points raised by Fadnavis were misplaced. "There has to be a method to place your concern on record. What I saw today [pointing out at the empty benches] is not our culture," he said.
Chhagan Bhujbal, who is also accused of distorting the prescribed oath, maintained that all ministers had read the prescribed text without making any alterations. "People take all kinds of oath in Parliament. Should we dissolve the Parliament also?" he asked the House.
Sena minister Eknath Shinde also challenged the BJP to take any legal course to prove his oath invalid adding, "Fadnavis should remember that he could only run the government for five years because Uddhav Thackeray extended his support."
Patole for Speaker
The trust vote proved that the MVS would have no problem in getting Congress MLA Nana Patole as the Speaker of Assembly on Monday. The BJP has fielded Kisan Kathore.
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