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Despite Confidence of '162 MLAs', Why the Opposition Wanted an Open Ballot Floor Test

Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress appearing for the NCP had last week rooted for an open ballot test.


Updated:November 26, 2019, 1:23 PM IST
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Despite Confidence of '162 MLAs', Why the Opposition Wanted an Open Ballot Floor Test
News18 Creative by Mir Suhail

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered for a floor test in Maharashtra to be conducted through open ballot, which will be telecast live. The court said the floor test will be conducted by the pro tem speaker after the members take oath by 5pm on Wednesday.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi of the Congress appearing for the NCP had last week rooted for an open ballot test. An open ballot becomes necessary to make sure every MLA casts his/her loyal vote. A ballot box is duly thrown open for inspection by all and the voting process is also telecast live.

There are three modes in which the floor test can be administered. In a voice vote, the legislators are asked to respond orally. In case a division vote is ordered for, the voting is done with the use of electronic gadgets, ballot box or slips.

A ballot vote is done if secret voting is necessitated. This is similar to how the general elections are conducted.

But in case of an open ballot, MLAs belonging to political parties are required to show their ballot paper, after casting vote, to the authorised representative of the party.

This is done to increase transparency in voting and will be crucial during Wednesday’s trust vote with chances of cross-voting being highly likely.

A floor test is a constitutional mechanism. It is used to determine if the incumbent government enjoys the support of the legislature. This voting process happen in the state’s Legislative Assembly or the Lok Sabha at the central level.

Technically, the chief minister of a state is appointed by the Governor. The appointed chief minister usually belongs to the single largest party or the coalition which has the ‘magic number’. The magic number is the total number of seats required to form a government, or stay in power. It is the half-way mark, plus one. In case of a tie, the Speaker casts the deciding vote.

If some MLAs remain absent or abstain from voting, the majority is counted on the basis of those present and voting. This effectively reduces the strength of the House and in turn brings down the majority-mark.

According to NCP MLA Dhananjay Munde, 162 MLAs of the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi' comprising the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress assembled for a joint 'parade' at a luxury hotel in suburban Mumbai and took oath not to fall prey to any inducements by the BJP. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Congress leader Ashok Chavan were among others present.

BJP MLA Ashish Shelar responded to the show of strength by the 3-party alliance on Monday night, saying a majority in the Assembly cannot be proved by such parades. The dramatic turn of events that led to the return of BJP's Fadnavis as chief minister on Saturday propped up by NCP's Ajit Pawar after the latter's revolt against the Sharad Pawar-led party also echoed in Parliament with the Congress and other opposition members creating a ruckus. Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Sharad Pawar, was made the deputy chief minister.

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