The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) decision to use the voice vote option, instead of proving its numbers in the Maharashtra assembly, has drawn flak from citizens as well as experts.
A day after the trust motion was passed, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis-led government on Thursday found itself under attack in the social media, with the CM’s Facebook page and WhatsApp replete with nasty comments, memes over BJP’s new tacit ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which it had targeted during the election campaign.
Fadnavis’ Facebook comment thanking legislators for their support to his government attracted comments like: “A chameleon committed suicide after he realised both Sharad Pawar and BJP are unbeatable at changing their colours. Some citizens demanded their votes back, while some said Fadnavis should now junk all irrigation scam documents, as the only use it can have now is to sell bhel or chiwda.”
The anger is overwhelmingly against the BJP taking support from Pawar to stay in power. “The reasons floating around like the Opposition didn’t ask for voice vote in time are mere technicalities. Constitutional propriety demands the division of vote must be carried out, especially when a new government is trying to prove its numbers on the floor of the House. People have the right to know who stands where,” said lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani.
He added that even if the move can’t be challenged legally, it went gone against the established constitutional tradition. “The Assembly rules state if demanded, a division of votes must be given. They didn’t have the requisite numbers, so they should have shown the numbers.’’
Journalist Aroon Tikekar said, “If you say your government is different, majority should not be proved by a technicality, but by the norms of morality and transparency.”
In damage-control mode, Fadnavis hit back at former ally Shiv Sena challenging them to move a no-confidence motion against the government. He also put a question mark on the intent of Sena saying a majority of its leaders were not in the House when the motion was tabled.
On Twitter, Fadnavis, in a series of tweets, defended the trust vote. For instance he tweeted: “Since 1990, the trust vote in Maharashtra assembly has always been by Voice Vote except two times when there was division of votes.”
However, political observers said there is no comparison between what happened in 1999, 2004 and 2009 and the current scenario. “For the past three Assembly polls, the ruling parties had submitted a list of MLAs supporting the government.
For instance in 2009, the Congress-NCP put a list of 172 MLAs supporting the government before the Governor. In the current situation, the BJP has the support of 122 legislators, but no one knows who else is supporting the government. There is nothing on paper or in the records. Hence a voice vote does not work,” said Ratnakar Mahajan, Congress spokesperson and a former close aide of Sharad Pawar.
He said there is no bar on tabling trust or a confidence motion again even on the very next day, the six-month gap is kept only for a no-confidence motion.