Uddhav Thackeray steps down as Maharashtra CM
By Venkatesh Raghavan*
Mumbai/New Delhi: An emotionally charged Uddhav Thackeray resigned today from the post of Chief Minister and also from being a Member of the Legislative Council of Maharashtra amidst high drama soon after the Apex Court verdict favouring a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly got announced.
Uddhav made his emotional pitch to his Facebook audience, concluding that he will continue to strive for strengthening the Shiv Sena. The floor test is slated to take place on Thursday.
Earlier, there was a flurry of activity, both in the Supreme Court and in the rebel camp of the Sainiks.
The apex court today ruled in favour of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s decision asking Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take a floor test at the earliest. During the course of lengthy arguments from both sides, namely Shiv Sena whip Sunil Prabhu who had challenged the Governor’s decision and Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde, the Court ruled that it was mandatory for the Maharashtra government to undergo a floor test, it being the only way to resolve such issues in a democracy.
While Counsel for Shinde stressed on speedy conduct of the floor test in the interests of protecting democracy and preventing horse-trading measures, the Sena counsel pleaded that the decision in favour of the floor test amounts to the exercise of undue haste. Earlier, the apex court had granted interim relief to the Sena rebels to respond to the deputy speaker’s disqualification notice.
The apex court which granted the conduct of the floor test on Thursday has also permitted NCP leaders Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik who are currently under judicial custody to participate in it. Both the nodal agencies, ED and CBI have been directed to escort the MLAs to Vidhan Sabha and back. The Supreme Court has also sought a counter reply from the Shiv Sena to be tabled on July 11. The outcome of Thursday’s floor test is expected to determine the Apex Court’s ruling on the current imbroglio the Party is faced with.
Meanwhile, the cabinet decided in favour of renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv. The Party’s claim to the Hindutva brand of politics is expected to get a fillip from this renaming motion. Political observers in the state see it as a move to counter the charges traded by the rebel Sena group, which contended that the Party has no more credentials to represent the cause of Hindutva.
At this stage, it’s still unclear whether the BJP will form an alternate government by using MLAs from the Sena’s rebel camp or the house gets dissolved and a call is given for a fresh mandate. While Uddhav sought to bolster support and sympathy by addressing people on his Facebook video platform, the counsel for Shinde who is leading the rebel MLAs has cited the Supreme Court ruling that a mere disqualification notice does not pose any stumbling block to the rebel group participating in the floor test to cast their votes.
Shinde also spelt out that in the current scenario, the Uddhav-led MVA has been reduced to a hopeless minority in the numbers game. Making it more quizzical, the rebel camp MLA mentioned on his Twitter handle that “We are not leaving the Shiv Sena. We are the Shiv Sena.”