December 2019
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Uddhav Thackeray-led govt passes floor test amid BJP boycott
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. Altogether 169 MLAs voted in favour of the motion of confidence after the BJP, which has 105 MLAs, staged a walkout before the head count began in the 288-member House. The headcount was held after the voice vote following the Supreme Court directive to ensure transparency, pro tem Speaker Dilip Walse Patil informed the House. The walkout 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, with former CM Prithviraj Chavan describing Fadnavis, who resigned as chief minister 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. The motion of confidence was moved by former CM Ashok Chavan and seconded by senior NCP and Sena members. Four MLAs abstained during the vote. Two were from the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), one from the CPI(M) and the other from the MNS, which is led by Uddhav''s estranged cousin Raj Thackeray.

As directed by the Supreme Court, the name each MLA voting/abstaining in the floor test was noted down. The entire House proceedings were telecast live. When voting was being held, there were 174 members in the House, including the pro tem speaker, indicating that the BJP had managed to get the support of nine non-party MLAs. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress formed the government after the Thackeray-led party fell out with pre-poll ally BJP over sharing the chief ministerial post. The BJP emerged as the single largest party winning 105 seats in the October 21 polls. The Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress won 56, 54 and 44 seats respectively. Thackeray, who is also the Shiv Sena president, was sworn-in as the chief minister on Thursday.

Fadnavis also 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 the walkout. 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.

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 sporting saffron turbans. Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil told reporters that Uddhav''s swearing-in was illegal as the prescribed format of oath was not followed.

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. NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said Walse Patil was appointed pro-tem Speaker with the governor''s consent. The session too was convened after Koshyari''s approval, he said.

NCP MP Supriya Sule said the BJP ran away from floor test, while 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. The Assembly speaker will be elected on Sunday, 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. Patole represents Sakoli Assembly segment in Vidarbha, while Kathore is from Murbad in Thane district. This is the fourth term as an MLA for both.

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