Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray resigns ahead of the floor test

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on June 29 announced his resignation, minutes after the Supreme Court

the governor-ordered floor test in the assembly scheduled for tomorrow.

“I am resigning as the chief minister,” Thackeray said, adding that he is also quitting his membership of the legislative council. “I had come (to power) in an unexpected manner and I am going out in a similar fashion. I am not going away forever, I will be here, and I will once again sit in Shiv Sena Bhawan. I will gather all my people,” he further said.Moneycontrol had, earlier in the day, reported thatif the Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for the floor test called for tomorrow. Hours before announcing his resignation, Thackeray chaired his final cabinet meeting as the chief minister, where the nod was given to rename Aurangabad as Sambhaji Nagar and Osmanabad as Dharashiv — both were long-pending demands of the Shiv Sena. “I want to express my gratitude to the ministers of NCP and Congress that they supported the proposal to rename the two cities,” Thackeray said in a live Facebook address. As Thackeray announced his resignation, celebrations erupted in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) camp.

The political crisis in Maharashtra had erupted on June 20, after more than a dozen legislators of the Shiv Sena moved to Surat, in the BJP-ruled Gujarat, and turned incommunicado. As the number of rebels swelled, they were shifted to Guwahati, in the BJP-ruled Assam, where they had been camping for over a week. The BJP, which had distanced away from the Sena’s rebellion, swung into action this week. Senior party leader Devendra Fadnavis, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, met Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on June 28 and requested to him call for a floor test at the earliest.

The governor, earlier today, asked the Thackeray government to prove its majority by June 30. This had prompted Shiv Sena’s chief whip Sunil Prabhu to approach the Supreme Court, as the party pointed out that disqualification notices have been issued to 16 of its rebel MLAs. The action against the Sena rebels, based on the disqualification notices, was stayed by the Supreme Court earlier this week till July 11. While the legal proceedings were underway today, 39 Sena rebel MLAs, who had been camping in Guwahati boarded a plane to Goa, the BJP-ruled coastal state located next to Maharashtra.

According to Sena leader and state minister Eknath Shinde, who is leading the rebel camp, around 40 out of the party’s 55 MLAs have sided with him. He also claimed that 10 independent legislators are also supporting him. In the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, the halfway majority mark stands at 145. Sena (55), NCP (53) and Congress (44) are currently in power, with a total of 155 MLAs.

However, the rebellion in Sena ranks has brought down the party’s effective strength to 16, say analysts. In case of a floor test, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is expected to demonstrate a total strength of 113 MLAs, which will be below the halfway majority-mark. The BJP, which is poised to return to power following Thackeray’s exit, is the single-largest party with 106 MLAs. With 39 Sena rebels, the party is expected to stake claim for government formation after the MVA loses the trust vote. The Supreme Court, however, noted in its order that the result of the floor test would be subject to the action against the 16 rebel Sena MLAs, against whom the disqualification notice has been stayed till July 11. If the 16 rebel legislators end up being disqualified, then the BJP and Shinde-led Sena camp will have to rely on independent legislators and smaller parties, if they are invited to form the next government.