The Supreme Court (SC) today asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Maharashtra to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly by Wednesday 5 pm. The apex court ordered live broadcast of the confidence motion and said there will be no secret ballot. The court also directed immediate appointment of a pro-tem speaker who will conduct the test.
The state governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had earlier asked the state government to take the floor test in two weeks’ time from Devendra Fadnavis’ swearing-in. The Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress had approached the SC against the governor’s move to give the Fadnavis time till Saturday.
Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray is claiming the support of 162 legilsators. Koshyari had installed the Fadnavis government on the morning of 23 November.
While the NCP and the Congress had been deliberating an alliance for the last three weeks and were all set to announce the name of Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray as their choice for the Maharashtra CM post, the BJP lured NCP founder Sharad Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar into its fold late Friday evening. By 8 a.m. Saturday morning, the governor had sworn-in Fadnavis as CM and Ajit as his deputy.
Alliances on both sides—BJP-Ajit Pawar and Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress—have expressed confidence over having the numbers in the assembly to form the government in the state.
Contradictory statements followed with Ajit claiming the support of majority of MLAs with Sharad Pawar disputing his nephew’s claims. This was followed by NCP removing Ajit as its legislative party leader and the Shiv Sena and Congress-NCP combine moving the SC against the governor’s decision.
The BJP, the largest party in the state with 105 seats, had earlier decided against staking claim to form the government. The BJP and Shiv Sena had fought the October elections in an alliance. Once the results were released, Shiv Sena insisted on a 50-50 seat sharing formula including having its nominee as the chief minister for half the term. This was not acceptable to the BJP, which got almost double the number of Shiv Sena’s 56 seats.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna heard the matter. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi appeared for Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the BJP and “some” independent legislators, while solicitor general Tushar Mehta appeared for the central government.