Global Affairs Desk

Tue Jun 18 2024

Maharashtra Political Crisis and Outcomes

~ By Samidha Jain on 7/31/2022

Maharashtra Political Crisis and Outcomes

Maharashtra's government was once again on the edge of falling and is now renewed. The political crisis was a direct repercussion of the 2019 general elections. This article provides a compact analysis of the crisis and its outcomes.

On 21 June, senior Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde along with several other MLAs of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) moved first to Surat in BJP-ruled Gujarat and then to Guwahati, Assam as an overt act of rebellion against the government. Maharashtrian government (till 30th June 2022) was a coalition government made by Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress along with some other regional parties and individual candidates. The total seats in the Maharashtra state assembly are 288 and the seats required for the majority are 145. MVA in total had 175 seats, with Shiv Sena having 56, NCP having 53 and INC having 44 seats.

During 2019 general elections, BJP alone won 106 seats and with the support of Shiv Sena brought the total to 162 seats. But due to indifferences within the coalition, Shiv Sena hopped out and instead formed the government with NCP and INC.

Now, Eknath Shinde formed a different wing within Shiv Sena along with 39 other MLAs. This brings down the current number of seats in the assembly to 138. It was not known whether these MLAs wanted to join BJP or wanted to form their own party, but it was clear that they don’t want to stick with MVA. But then, by June 28th they had announced to make government with BJP. As the number of MLAs was less than required to form the majority, MVA had to face a Floor Test in the State Assembly. Maharashtra's Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray to avoid the floor test even announced to file Defection disqualification for the 12 rebel MLAs. The reason for filling only 12 members was because, under the 10th schedule of the Indian Constitution, the Anti Defection law doesn’t disqualify if two third of the party members have decided to leave the party. In this scenario, it was clear that they won't qualify for Defection as more than two third the members had decided to leave the party. Filing for anti-defection did not work out for the Thackeray government. And the government was finally toppled.

But before going deep into the floor test and its results the question which rises here is, why did 39 senior MLAs of the ruling party decided to leave the party all of a sudden? It is viewed that these MLAs and Shinde were looking for the perfect time to leave the party ever since the party decided to join hands with NCP and INC after 2019 elections. Shiv Sena was founded by Bal Keshav Thackeray, father of Uddhav Thackeray who was a strong supporter of Hindutava. By joining the alliance of INC and NCP, Uddhav Thackeray had betrayed his father's legacy and his party’s ideology. This caused resentment among many members of Shiv Sena.

Coming back to the crisis, on the night of 28th June, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis met with the Governor, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and urged for a floor test. What is a floor test? A floor test is a legislative procedure through which an incumbent government that is suspected to have lost the majority is required to prove that it still retains the confidence of the House. The Chief Minister moves a motion seeking a vote of confidence, on which MLAs who are present in the House vote. If the majority of members vote in favour, the government survives; if the CM loses the vote, the government has to resign. On 29th June on the orders of the Hon’ble Governor, a floor test was conducted in the state assembly. In the floor test, Uddhav Thackeray was unable to prove the majority of the government and thus lost the confidence of the house.

Eknath Shinde then went on and formed the government with BJP`s support. On 30th June, Eknath Shinde was sworn in as the 20th Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Devendra Fadnavis as the Deputy-Chief Minister. The total number of MLAs of Eknath Shinde’s faction of Shiv Sena, BJP, other small regional parties and independent MLAs is 167.
The cabinet of the State Assembly is yet to be appointed. Since the last month, the cabinet has been a two-man show with The Chief Minister and The Deputy-Chief Minister being the only members of the cabinet. On 1st August it is expected that The Chief Minister will expand the cabinet. Sources claim that the “formula of the Cabinet” is already decided and will be expanded in August. Shinde has been responsibly serving the post. Since he has become the Chief Minister, he has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP leaders in New Delhi. During another visit to the National capital, he met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla with a breakaway group of 12 MPs of the Shiv Sena. He also attended the swearing-in ceremony of Droupadi Murmu as the President. Maharashtra is not the first time India has experienced such a dramatic event and will probably not be the last. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have also seen government toppling in the past 5 years.

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