It’s D-Day for the four-day-old Shiv Sena-BJP government as it faces the floor test on Monday during the special two-day session of the Legislative Assembly after Uddhav Thackeray quit in the face of a rebellion engineered by now chief minister Eknath Shinde.
The test of strength comes a day after BJP’s Rahul Narvekar was elected Speaker — a significant move in view of the Shiv Sena’s pending appeal to disqualify 16 rebel MLAs, including the new Chief Minister.
A plea by the Uddhav Thackeray faction, seeking disqualfication of 16 MLAs of the Shinde camp, is pending before the Supreme Court. However, even if the MLAs are disqualified, the new government will have an upper hand in the numbers game.
The BJP currently has 106 MLAs and Shinde claims to have the support of 50, including 39 Sena rebels. A disqualification of 16 MLAs will bring the majority mark to 137, with the government still in a comfortable position with a total strength of 140.
Amid the tug-of-war for power in Maharashtra, News18 takes a look at the concept of floor test:
What is a floor test?
A floor test simply means the chief minister must prove his majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. It is an exercise in which the government seeks to know whether it still enjoys the confidence of the legislature. When the majority of the government is under a cloud of suspicion, the leader of the party which claims majority has to move a vote of confidence and prove majority among those present and voting. If the chief minister fails to prove they have the numbers, they must resign.
How does voting happen?
There are different ways MLAs or MPs (in case, a floor test is called in Parliament) can cast their vote in order to prove majority. While there’s the voice vote process in which legislators respond orally, there is also the division vote in which electronic gadgets, slips or ballot box are used. The third method of voting is the ballot vote, which is usually a secret vote.
What role does the governor play?
As per law, the Governor can summon the House under Article 175(2) and call for a floor test for the government to prove its majority. If the Assembly is not in session, then the Governor can allow the Speaker to call for a floor test under his residuary powers under Article 163.
What’s the latest?
In a jolt to Uddhav Thackeray ahead of the floor test, the Maharashtra Assembly Speaker reinstated Shinde as Shiv Sena legislature party leader, removing Ajay Chaudhary. Narvekar also recognised the appointment of Bharat Gogawale from the Shinde camp as the chief whip of the Sena, removing Sunil Prabhu, who belongs to the Thackeray faction.
In a statement late Sunday night, Narvekar said the Maharashtra Legislature secretariat had received a letter from the Shinde-led group on June 22 objecting to his removal by Thackeray as the group leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party.
After discussing the legalities of the matter, the Speaker has rejected the appointment of Sena MLA Ajay Chaudhary as the group leader of the legislative unit of the party, a letter by Narvekar said. The development comes as a major setback to the Thackeray faction comprising 16 MLAs who will be bound by the whip to be issued by Gogawale for the trust vote.
If these 16 MLAs refuse to follow the whip, they face disqualification. Reacting to the development, Shiv Sena chief MP Arvind Sawant said his party will challenge this “unconstitutional” decision in court.
“Former Secretary General of Lok Sabha PDT Acharya has given directives that the party leader (chief) has the right to appoint the group leader of the legislative unit of that party. How can you say that (Eknath Shinde) is the (legislative) party leader? We will challenge this decision in court. This is highly unfortunate. The decision is taken on Sunday late night which speaks volumes about how it must have been taken,” said Sawant. He alleged that the decision amounts to trampling the Constitution and democratic norms. “The BJP is marching towards autocracy,” Sawant added.