As new government of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday won the trust vote in Maharashtra Assembly, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former deputy CM Ajit Pawar was selected as the Leader of the Opposition.
Mr. Pawar said that he will work in an unbiased manner as earlier in his new capacity as the Opposition leader. “. We will support the government in schemes that will benefit the State but will also keep a check on government functioning,” he said, adding that he will ensure that no bill will be passed without a discussion.
Faced with a challenge to steer the struggling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), Mr. Pawar’s first challenge would be to keep the opposition flock together. On Monday, one more Shiv Sena MLA - Santosh Banger from Kalamnuri constituency in Hingoli district - joined the Shinde camp reducing the Opposition strength by one.
Earlier in the day, the new government won the trust vote with 164 MLAs voting in its favour while 99 members voted against it. The Opposition votes came down to 99 from 107 it had secured a day earlier during the election for the Speaker’s post.
Two NCP MLAs namely Sangram Jagtap and Anna Bansode and seven Congress MLAs including former CM Ashok Chavan, Vijay Vadettiwar, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Dheeraj Deshmukh, Kunal Patil, Raju Awale and Mohan Hambarde were missing from the vote. Later Mr. Chavan and other MLAs claimed that they came late and Assembly door was closed for voting as per the procedure by the time they arrived.
Additionally, the State Legislative Secretariat has acknowledged Mr. Shinde as the Shiv Sena Legislative party leader and Bharat Gogawale as chief whip.
On Monday morning, Mr. Gogawale issued a notice to 15 Sena MLAs who defied the party whip and voted against it in the Speaker’s election. The Speaker’s House too acknowledged the same.
To ease action against them, the ruling side passed a resolution in Assembly expressing faith in the speaker. “We did this because the opposition had moved a no confidence motion against the Speaker and they would have used this to prohibit him from taking action against those 15 members. Now that the House has passed a resolution expressing faith in Speaker, the said resolution by Opposition stands null and void,” said Mr. Fadnavis.
He added that now the Speaker can move ahead with the action if needed.