Speaker Haribhau Bagde’s first day as the presiding officer of the state assembly proved to be controversial with the Opposition – Shiv Sena and Congress – crying foul over his decision to clear the trust motion against the government by a voice vote.
Bagde, a five term MLA from Aurangabad, put the one line motion presented by BJP’s Ashish Shelar in the state assembly seeking confidence of the house in the Fadnavis government to vote. It was passed after a majority shouted in its favour by saying `Aye’.
Bagde cleared the motion and then took up another item on the agenda of the house. Opposition Sena and Congress alleged that their demands for a poll or division on the floor of the assembly were ignored—a charge that Bagde refuted.
But was he right in taking such decision or ignored the demands of the opposition as alleged by the latter?
According to experts on legislative rules, there are no separate rules governing a trust motion. It comes under Rule 41 and 45 of Maharashtra Assembly Rules followed for all motions on the floor of the house. Motions are generally cleared by voice vote even though division of votes can be demanded by any group in the assembly. If the Speaker feels that the demand is legitimate, he agrees to division of vote.
In this case, Bagde ruled that demand itself was made after the motion was passed and hence couldn’t be considered.
"The motion was put to vote after it was tabled and got passed after it got unanimous vote. The division of votes should have been demanded when the motion is put to vote. The opposition made this demand too late after it had already been passed," he explained while speaking to the reporters later.
However, it wasn’t clear why a motion as important as that proving majority of the government could not have been put for count even if the opposition was a few minutes late. "This government is illegitimate. There are no precedents for clearing a trust motion just by voice vote," said Congress former CM Prithviraj Chavan.
BJP for its part said that the voice vote was successful because both the Shiv Sena and Congress failed to startegise for the same. The Sena was expecting the motion to elect the leader of opposition to be tabled before the trust vote as it was second on the assembly’s schedule for the day.
"I put the leader of opposition election on hold as it can be done only after a government proves its majority. I don’t know how the election for LOP was put second on the schedule," admitted Bagde.
"The Sena was focussing only on getting the LOP post. The Congress was upset at losing it. In between this confusion, we got our trust motion passed, it was passed with clear majority. When Sena withdrew its candidate for the Speaker, it should have made a demand that they wanted division of votes," said a senior BJP leader.