'BJP govt 25 MLAs short (of majority). A B Vajpayee govt fell by 1 vote in Parliament;' Speaker rushes to adjourn House.
The 13-day-old Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Devendra Fadnavis today won the confidence motion in Maharashtra Assembly by a voice vote, amid protests by former ally Shiv Sena.
As the motion seeking vote of confidence in the BJP government moved by MLA Ashish Shelar was passed in the House where the ruling party is in minority, Shiv Sena MLAs stormed the Well seeking division of votes.
Agitated members of Shiv Sena, which had earlier said that it will oppose the trust vote and and had demanded that its leader Eknath Shinde be accorded the status of Leader of Opposition, shouted slogans.
The Speaker later also announced appointment of Shinde as Leader of Opposition in the House.
Earlier in the day, Bagde was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the Maharashtra Assembly after Congress and Shiv Sena withdrew their candidates from the race.
The Speaker had said he would take up the issue of Sena’s demand for LoP’s post after the trust vote as Congress had also staked claim and he would have to study the legal implications. Congress had demanded LoP’s post on the ground that Sena continued to be a constituent of BJP-led NDA.
After Sena members objected to the passing of the trust motion by a voice vote and sought division, Bagde adjourned the House.
When proceedings resumed, the Speaker announced appointment of Shinde as Leader of Opposition in the House.
Sena MLAs led by Shinde registered protest over the confidence motion being passed by voice vote and said it amounted to “strangling democracy”.
“The House should be run as per rules and the Constitution should not be trampled upon. The new government is strangulating democracy. We sought division but the trust vote was passed by voice vote,” Shinde said.
Rejecting his contention, the Speaker said, “The issue is over. The trust vote has been passed.”
Chief Minister Fadnavis joined issue with Shinde, saying, “Although there is the word opposition in your designation, the expectation is that you should not oppose each and every issue and support the government’s pro-people decisions.”
Later, speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan described the passing of the confidence motion by voice vote as “unprecedented” and demanded that the government seek a fresh vote through division.
“It is a black day in the democratic process in Maharashtra. Never a confidence motion has been passed by voice vote. Until the government proves its majority in the House by division, the government is illegitimate,” he said.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakre held that the motion had “not been “passed as there was no division of votes.
“Being a minority government it was the duty of the government to pass the motion through division. They are around 25 MLAs short (of majority). Atal Behari Vajpayee government fell by one vote in Parliament.
“We will frustrate all attempts to manipulate a majority and not allow the Assembly to conduct any business until the government obtains a fresh trust vote,” Thakre said, adding the party MLAs will call on Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to lodge a formal protest.
“Vidhan Sabha stands tarnished today,” Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam said, claiming since the Fadnavis government did not enjoy majority in the House, it had manipulated the trust vote.
“A division would have made it clear whether they have the support of the majority of MLAs. The confidence motion has not been passed,” he said.
Raising questions about the conduct of the Speaker, Kadam said he would speak to leaders of all non-BJP parties, including NCP, which had declared outside support to the government, whether a no-confidence motion should be brought against him.
“People of Maharashtra will not forgive the BJP government for what they have done,” he said.