Mumbai: Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government faces a floor test today after Sunday's big win where BJP's Rahul Narvekar was elected as the Speaker. The special two-day session of the State Legislative Assembly comes after a high-voltage political drama in the state where a new government led by rebel Shiv Sena MLA Shinde came to power toppling the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) regime.
Earlier on Sunday evening, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, along with his faction of Shiv Sena MLAs, held a meeting with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, BJP MLAs, and other party leaders at a hotel in Mumbai to chalk out a strategy for the floor test.
"The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government is set to face a majority test on Monday, the second day of the special session of the legislature. What exactly will be the strategy of the government was discussed in the meeting held in the presence of all the MLAs today," sources said.
Fadnavis claimed that the Shinde government will prove its majority with 166 votes.
"The youngest speaker candidate won the speaker election with 164 votes today as 2 MLAs couldn't come due to health issues. We would prove our majority with 166 votes in the vote of confidence," he said.
At present, the BJP has 106 MLAs in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly and Shinde is leading 39 rebel Shiv Sena legislators and some Independents. After the death of a Shiv Sena MLA recently, the current strength of the Assembly is reduced to 287, thus the majority mark is 144.
Shinde-led camp and the BJP scored a big win on Sunday as BJP's Rahul Narwekar was elected as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly defeating Shiv Sena candidate Rajan Salvi.
Interestingly, amid the ongoing battle between two Shiv Sena factions led by Eknath Shinde and Uddhav Thackeray, both sides issued separate whips to the party MLAs to vote in favour of their respective candidates during the speaker's election on Sunday and later accused each other of violating them.
Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, who is in the Uddhav Thackeray camp, said that 39 party MLAs did not obey their whip adding that they have sought their disqualification from the state Assembly.
"39 of our MLAs did not obey our whip, and didn't follow party order, so we have sought their disqualification from new Assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has chosen Ajay Choudhari as the leader of the group," Sawant said.
However, Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar has taken on record the letter sent by Bharat Gogawale, who is Chief Whip of the Eknath Shinde-led faction. Gogawale said that 16 MLAs Shiv Sena violated the whip.
Narwekar received a total of 164 votes in support and 107 went to the Shiv Sena candidate's account. During the Speaker elections, 12 members were absent and 3 legislators abstained from the voting.
In the latest development, the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Sena has also started the legal process to disqualify 16 MLAs, including Shinde. Newly appointed Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Rahul Narwekar said in the House today that he has received a letter from Bharatshet Gogawale, a whip of the Shinde faction of Shiv Sena that "16 MLAs have violated their whip and he has sought action". I have noted this, Narwekar said.
Shinde, in his first address on the floor of the Maharashtra Assembly as a Chief Minister on Sunday, said that the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah to let him lead the government despite having more members than his side has "opened the eyes of many".
He also said that after the collapse of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state, a "BJP-Shiv Sena government" has taken charge which is based on the beliefs of the party founder Balasaheb Thackeray.
Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray termed Monday's floor test as a "morality test" for MLAs.