OPN UDDHAV
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray addresses a public rally, in Aurangabad. Image Credit: ANI

New Delhi: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday night announced he was stepping down from his post.

His announcement came soon after the Supreme Court declined to stay the floor test ordered by the Governor for the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to prove its majority in the Assembly on Thursday.

"I am resigning as the Chief Minister," Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray announced. He also announced his resignation as MLC too.

Thackeray, whose party's internal revolt brought down the three-year-old MVA government, said he came to power in "an unexpected manner" and was "going out in a similar fashion".

"I had come (to power) in an unexpected manner and I am going out in a similar fashion. I am not going away forever, I will be here, and I will once again sit in Shiv Sena Bhavan. I will gather all my people," he said.

Uddhav Thackeray also expressed gratitude to NCP and Congress, allies in the coalition government.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that Maharashtra's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government will have to face a floor test in the Assembly scheduled on Thursday.

A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and J.B. Pardiwala refused to interfere with Governor's direction to the MVA government to prove its majority in the Assembly on June 30.

"We are not staying the floor test. We are issuing notice... you can file counter," it said.

The top court also said it will hear the matter on merits along with other cases on July 11, and the result of Thursday's test will depend on the final outcome of this petition.

After a marathon hearing of more than 3 hours, the bench had reserved its order on the plea by Shiv Sena chief whip Sunil Prabhu, challenging the Maharashtra Governor's direction to prove its majority in the House on Thursday.

In a related development, the top court also allowed Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik and former Anil minister Deshmukh, who are imprisoned in money laundering cases, to be escorted by the CBI/ED to the Assembly to cast their votes in the floor test.

During the hearing on Prabhu's plea, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing him, contended that it won't be proper to have a floor test while tying the Speaker's hands and urged the court to either allow the Speaker to decide the disqualification proceedings or defer the floor test.

He urged the top court to balance the equities and defer the floor test by a week, seeking either the Speaker be allowed to decide the disqualification proceedings, or to advance the hearing in the matter.

Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing the rebel MLAs, submitted that the top court, in its judgments, had said the disqualification proceedings against the MLAs have no bearing on the floor test in the House.

"We are the Shiv Sena and we represent the Shiv Sena (not the other minority)," he said, telling the court that there are 39 dissident MLAs, out of which 16 have been served with disqualification notices as he emphasised that "the dance of democracy takes place on the floor of the house".

He said that the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is in a "hopeless minority within the party itself, forget the house" and submitted that the best way to prevent horse-trading is to conduct the floor test.

Senior advocates Kaul and Siddharth Bhatnagar, assisted by advocates Abhikalp Pratap Singh and Utsav Trivedi, appeared for 16 rebel Shiv Sena MLAs. Senior advocate Maninder Singh represented Eknath Shinde.