Uddhav Thackeray today resigned as Maharashtra Chief Minister soon after the Supreme Court said he must prove his majority tomorrow.
The Supreme Court, responding to team Thackeray challenging a test of strength ordered by the Governor at short notice, had a caveat - the outcome of tomorrow's vote would be subject to a hearing on July 11, when the court would take up the response of all sides involved.
During arguments, the ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition said the Governor's decision to order a floor test was illegal as the Supreme Court had yet to decide on the disqualification of Shiv Sena rebel Eknath Shinde and 15 more MLAs; they had been given time till July 12 to respond to disqualification notices.
The Governor showed "undue and unholy haste" in ordering Uddhav Thackeray to prove his majority, said his team. It also alleged that the rebel MLAs had "hobnobbed with other parties including the BJP."
"Will heaven fall if a floor test is not conducted tomorrow? Why can't they wait till July 11. The next Supreme Court hearing," said lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing team Thackeray.
Why a vote at this time, when two Nationalist Congress Party MLAs were down with Covid, two Congress MLAs are abroad and the Governor had just recovered from Covid, Mr Singhvi wondered.
Defection, per law, is "sin", said Mr Singhvi.
"This cuts into roots of democracy. How can somebody who is not part of the pool be allowed to swim in it," he questioned.
"The governor cannot act on the aid and advice of the leader of opposition. The Chief Minister and the council of ministers was not even consulted," Mr Singhvi said.
Team Thackeray shredded the Governor's argument that he had to take the decision and that there was no bias involved.
"They are saying a Governor is not political. They are acting like Governors have never been political. They are in some special Ivory Tower where the coffee has some special smell. Governor are not angels. They are humans. I am not seeing that he is bound by any one group. But why received letters from one side and then order a floor test," Mr Singhvi argued, accusing Governor Koshyari of delaying key elections.
The rebels told the Supreme Court that a floor test is not linked to disqualification proceedings at all. "I have seldom seen a party which is so fearful of a floor test," said NK Kaul, representing team Shinde.
"They are in a hopeless minority within the party and just want to clutch onto power by any means possible. The more you delay a floor test the more damage and violence you cause to the Constitution and a democracy. A floor test is essential to preventing horse trading," the lawyer asserted.
The rebel Shiv Sena group asserted that it is the actual Sena now and that the Chief Minister had been reduced to a "hopeless minority" in the party.
"Today we are not leaving the Shiv Sena. We are the Shiv Sena. We have 39 out of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs with us," Eknath Shinde's rebel group said in the Supreme Court, accusing team Thackeray of fearing a test of strength in the Maharashtra assembly as it knows it can't win.
The Governor ordered the test of strength a day after BJP leaders met him and told him the Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition has lost its majority.
Nearly 40 MLAs have deserted Uddhav Thackeray, leaving him in a minority in the party founded by his father, and joined rebel Eknath Shinde over the past week.