After a visit to the Kamakhya temple, Shiv Sena rebels led by MLA Eknath Shinde who were expected to move from Guwahati to Goa today as Uddhav Thackeray was ordered to prove a majority in the Maharashtra assembly, have returned to their hotel in a last-minute change of plans. Sources say the rebel camp will make a decision after the Supreme Court hearing later this evening. A chartered plane has been kept on standby.
"We will reach Mumbai tomorrow. 50 MLAs are with us. We have a two-thirds majority. We are not worried about any floor tests. We will pass all things and no one can stop us. In a democracy, majority matters and we have that," Eknath Shinde said in Guwahati.
Buses that were on standby outside this morning entered the Radisson Blu Hotel in Guwahati, where the rebel camp has been staying for a week now, and security was stepped up as the rebel MLAs were ferried out to the temple. Sources say they are likely to fly out to the coastal state later this evening in a chartered SpiceJet flight. Assam Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pijush Hazarika and other state BJP leaders accompanied the rebel Maharashtra MLAs to the Kamakhya temple.
In Goa, they might stay at the Taj Resort & Convention Centre where 70 rooms have reportedly been booked.
Being a BJP-ruled state, and located closer to Mumbai, Goa will be a convenient layover for the MLAs who will be required to show up for the special Maharashtra assembly session tomorrow morning where Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray faces a critical test to prove his majority.
The Maharashtra Governor has asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to prove a majority tomorrow. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has written to the assembly Secretary Rajendra Bhagwat calling for a special session at 11 am.
Hours after the Maharashtra Governor's direction to Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu moved the Supreme Court challenging the Governor's order. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who has been representing Uddhav Thackeray in the case, is expected to mention the plea for an urgent hearing in the top court when it opens at 10:30 am.
A bench of Justices Surya Kant and Justice JB Pardiwala, which provided the rebel camp relief till July 12 on their disqualification notices from the Deputy Speaker, will hear the Thackeray camp's challenge to the Governor's order today.
Sena MP Sanjay Raut this morning said they will go to the Supreme Court against the demand to prove a majority, a week after nearly 40 MLAs rebelled against Mr Thackeray.
"How can a floor test be asked for when the disqualification of 16 MLA has been deferred by the Supreme Court till 11th July? How can these MLAs participate in the floor test till their disqualification status is not decided and the other matters for which notice sent is sub judice?" Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi had tweeted. "This would be contempt of court proceedings if a floor test were conducted despite the matter not getting a final hearing in the SC [Supreme Court]," she said.
The test of the majority will be telecast live, and the proceedings will be recorded on camera by the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat through an independent agency, the Governor said. "In order to ensure free and fair voting, it shall be conducted by asking members to rise in their seats for the purpose of counting votes..." Mr Koshyari said.
Mr Shinde claims he has the support of nearly 50 MLAs, some 40 of them from the Shiv Sena. The majority mark currently stands at 144 in the 287-member assembly. The ruling alliance of the Shiv Sena, Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party, or NCP, has 152 MLAs. The state government will shrink to a minority without the nearly 40 rebel MLAs.