Eknath Shinde-led faction’s tally went up by one ahead of the floor test as Sanjay Bangar too dumped the Thackeray camp to support the trust vote.
Dumped by its own partymen, a diminished Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray suffered two major setbacks in two days of the special Assembly session — first the Speaker election in which BJP’s Rahul Narvekar won big and then the trust vote which turned out a cakewalk for the Eknath Shinde-BJP alliance government.
In the 288-member House, 164 MLAs voted for the motion of confidence, while 99 voted against it. Interestingly, the Opposition got 107 votes in the election for Speaker yesterday. While one more from the 16 MLAs in the Thackeray camp switched to the Shinde camp, the rest did not show up for the vote.
For Team Thackeray, the next challenge is to retain the cash-rich Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Since the current scenario favours the BJP, all eyes will be on Shinde’s role, whether it decides to team up with Devendra Fadnavis-led party for the civic body polls as well.
On the other hand, Uddhav Thackeray is left with limited options. To retain the BMC, mending ties with the Shinde Camp will be a way he will have to think about. But that option exists only when the rebel camp does not join hands with the BJP, with which it has formed the government.
The last option left with Thackeray will be to try his luck with the Congress and NCP, who he said stood by him when his own party members deserted him.
In the 2017 civic polls, Sena won 84 seats, while the BJP bagged 82. Later, six from MNS and some Independents joined Sena. Total number of electoral wards in BMC is now up from 227 to 336 following redrawing of ward boundaries.
Battle for ‘bow and arrow’
With 39 Shiv Sena MLAs already on his side, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led faction’s tally went up by one ahead of the floor test on Monday as Santosh Bangar too dumped the Thackeray camp to support the trust vote.
With 40 of the total 55 MLAs already on his side, Shinde claimed “they were the Shiv Sena” who followed Balasaheb’s ideology. With ‘real Shiv Sainik’ being made the chief minister of the new alliance government, more Shiv Sainiks inside and outside the legislature may align themselves with him in the coming days.
Thackeray now has to battle it out with Shinde to keep control of the Sena as well as its election symbol and even party offices, including the iconic Shiv Sena Bhavan. The battle between the two factions is likely to reach the Election Commission of India soon.
Disqualification of MLAs
While Eknath Shinde has managed to form government in alliance with the BJP, all eyes will be on Supreme Court’s July 11 hearing on Team Thackeray’s plea seeking disqualification of 16 rebel legislators, including the newly appointed CM.
Although, the change in numbers — in case of the disqualification of 16 rebels — is not likely to make much difference in the House where Shinde received 164 votes in the trust vote while the majority mark was 144.
On June 29, the top court refused to stay the direction of the Maharashtra Governor to the 31-month-old Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to take a floor test in the Assembly on Thursday to prove its majority after which the beleaguered chief minister Uddhav Thackeray quit office.