Maharashtra governor BS Koshyari has asked chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to face a floor test and prove his Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government’s majority by convening a special session of the state legislature at 11am on Thursday. In his letter to the secretary of the state legislature, Koshyari directed completion of the proceedings by 5pm on Thursday.
The direction came a day after the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) met Koshyari on Tuesday and demanded the government prove its majority on the floor of the assembly.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who returned to Mumbai after meeting Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda in Delhi, met Koshyari along with four party lawmakers and submitted letters of support from eight independent legislators.
In Guwahati, rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde said they will arrive in Mumbai for the required process.
On Tuesday, Fadnavis said they have demanded an immediate floor test and added that 39 Shiv Sena members do not support the MVA government. “The government is in a minority.”
This marked a shift in the stance of the BJP, which has been in wait-and-watch mode since turmoil hit the MVA last week. Despite the rebels camping in the BJP-run states of Gujarat and Assam, the party refused to make any public statements and maintained that it was an internal Sena matter.
Koshyari cited an email from seven independent lawmakers, Fadnavis’s letter, and the media coverage and added it appears Thackeray has lost the majority. He said in this backdrop, the floor test was imperative for Thackeray. He has directed adequate security to the rebel lawmakers during the floor test.
“Looking at the provocative statements made by certain leaders, adequate security shall be deployed outside and inside the Vidhan Bhavan [assembly] to maintain the sanctity of the voting process and also to pre-empt any law-and-order situation which may arise,” he said. He also directed to live telecast of the House proceedings.
“As the constitutional head of the state, I must ensure that the government must function with the support and confidence of the House. Thus, I have issued a communication to the chief minister calling upon to prove his majority.” Koshyari’s letter was sent to the state legislature past midnight.
Sena leaders have argued that any move for a floor test will be legally challenged as disqualification proceedings against 16 rebels are still pending. The dissidents have protection from the Supreme Court till July 11.
The Shinde faction has 39 lawmakers, more than two-thirds needed to legally break away from Shiv Sena. Shinde, who has camped in Guwahati since June 22, has said he has the support of 50 lawmakers.
The turmoil began last week when Shinde and his loyalists left for Surat, and later Guwahati. As days passed, the rebel ranks swelled even as the Sena appealed to deputy speaker Narhari Zirwal to disqualify 16 lawmakers.