Deserted by trusted aide and partymen, he thanks Pawar, Sonia; says does not want to spill blood of Shiv Sainiks
Geetanjali Minhas | June 30, 2022 | Mumbai
Minutes after the Supreme Court ordered a floor test on Wednesday night, Uddhav Thackeray in a televised address resigned as the chief minister of Maharashtra and also as a member of legislative council (MLC). He later drove down to Raj Bhavan and tendered his resignation to the governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari.
Thackeray has been battling defection from Eknath Shinde, his trusted aide and a top leader of Shiv Sena party.
In his live address immediately after the apex court’s order, Thackeray said, “In a democracy, heads are counted to show numbers. I am not interested in that. I don't want to play these games. Tomorrow, they will say that they have brought down Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray's son.
“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 the Sena Bhavan. I will gather all my people.
“I am resigning as the chief minister. I am not the one to be scared. Rather than spilling the blood of Shiv Sainiks on the streets, I will step down. I don’t care for the post. I care for support of my Shiv Sainiks. A new democracy will be born tomorrow. No Shiv Sainik will come in their way,” Thackeray said in his emotive speech.
He thanked NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for their support to the government headed by him.
On Wednesday night, Koshiyari, after his meeting with BJP leaders, directed Thackeray to face a floor test at 11 AM on June 30, adding that proceedings will have to be completed by 5 PM the same day.
The apex court order on Thackeray’s appeal challenging the test of strength at a short notice though had a caveat – that the outcome of floor test would be subject to a hearing on July 11, when the court would take up the responses of all sides involved.
“I want to thank the governor too,” said Thackeray in his live speech. “As soon as the letter was given for a floor test, he decided to act. But if he clears the names of 12 nominated legislators, our respect for him will only increase.”
As on several occasions in the past few days since the drama unfolded, during his live address too Thackeray, yet again, made an appeal to the rebel MLAs and said that rather than going to Surat or Guwahati they should have come to Varsha or Matoshree.
“I respect their sentiments but they should have come to me. Shiv Sainiks are being detained. Central forces are being sent to Mumbai. They will also withdraw border forces and send them to Mumbai,” he said with reference to rebel MLAs’ claims that their families back home were being threatened and BJP’s claims that law and order had failed in Mumbai.
He also presented a report card of what he did as head of government. “The first thing I did was give funds for the conservation of Raigad and also made the farmers debt free.”
Earlier in the evening, Thackeray chaired his last cabinet meeting and cleared the long-pending decisions to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad districts as Sambhajinagar and Dharashiv, respectively. The cabinet also passed the proposal to rename the under-construction Navi Mumbai International Airport as DB Patil Airport after the famed farmer leader.
“There were four Sena ministers when we took the historic decision to rename Aurangabad and Osmanabad. Congress and NCP did not oppose at all. Those who were said to oppose the proposal were with me today,” he said. Speculation was rife that Congress was opposed to renaming.
At the meeting Thackeray thanked all his cabinet colleagues for their cooperation and support and said this is not his last meeting and that he will continue to work.
Soon after Thackeray resigned, Amit Malviya, BJP IT department head, tweeted, “Balasaheb Thackeray was a man who could control governments, despite not being in power. On the other hand, his son couldn’t even control his party despite being in power. What a fall from grace!
“Uddhav Thackeray has not just lost his CM-ship but also tarnished the legacy of Balasaheb by entering into an unprincipled alliance with the NCP and Congress. But MVA’s collapse is a bigger loss of face for Sharad Pawar, who fancied himself as the architect of this alliance,” Malviya added in his tweet.
How the drama unfolded
The rebellion in Shiv Sena started soon after the legislative council elections on June 20, when senior Shiv Sena leader and Thackeray’s close aide, Eknath Shinde, disappeared and was not reachable. Later it came to light that Shinde along with other 11 MLAs had flown to Surat in BJP governed Gujarat. The next day, a meeting was called by Uddhav Thackeray with all his MLAs but 10-12 MLAs were found unreachable. Shinde was removed from the post of the Shiv Sena party whip. To keep its flock together, Shiv Sena housed the rest of its MLAs in several different hotels in Mumbai.
Thereafter Shinde asked Uddhav Thackeray to break the 'unnatural' MVA alliance and form the government with BJP. He claimed the support of over 40 MLAs with him. To avoid being disqualified under the anti-defection laws, Shinde requires the support of more than 37 MLAs (two-thirds of the total strength of 55).
On June 22, Shinde along with 40 MLAs moved to Guwahati in Assam, a BJP-ruled state. In the evening, Thackeray made an announcement that he was willing to step down as the leader of the alliance and as the chief minister. Later, he left Varsha, the official residence of the CM, and moved to his private residence, Matoshree. Senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut accused the BJP of causing the revolt within the Shiv Sena and attempting to topple the MVA coalition government.
On June 23, Shinde and 37 MLAs declared him the leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party. On June 24, Shiv Sena filed a petition against the rebel MLAs and demanded Narahari Zirwal, the deputy speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly, to disqualify 16 MLAs of the Shinde camp. After meeting Shiv Sena leaders, Zirwal also met the Advocate-General of Maharashtra for legal opinion.
Two independent MLAs supporting BJP brought a no-confidence motion against Zirwal. This no-confidence vote signed by 34 MLAs was rejected by Zirwal because the petition was sent through an anonymous e-mail and not submitted by an MLA himself. On the same day, Shinde, union home minister Amit Shah and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis met in Vadodara, Gujarat, reportedly to plan a merger or coalition and topple the MVA government.
On 26 June, Shinde moved the Supreme Court to dispute the rejection of the no-confidence vote against the deputy speaker. On 27 June, the Supreme Court kept the next hearing on July 11 and directed the deputy speaker Zirwal to file a detailed affidavit about the no-confidence motion against him.
On Wednesday morning, after the governor directed Sena supremo and Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to face a floor test on June 30, the MVA government approached the Supreme Court against the governor’s directive.
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