The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra state cabinet on Wednesday gave its go-ahead to rename Aurangabad to Sambhaji Nagar and adjoining Osmanabad to Dharashiv in an apparent bid to brandish its Hindutva roots that have been questioned by the dissident Eknath Shinde camp and the opposition BJP. The cabinet also approved the decision to change Navi Mumbai Airport’s name to DY Patil International Airport. The MVA allies NCP and Congress, who had always opposed this move, appeared to have caved in under pressure. In the cabinet meeting, Thackeray said, “Today we are in this situation because I have been betrayed by my own.”
The development comes just a day ahead of the scheduled floor test that Thackeray’s government is set to face on the floor of the state Assembly at 11 am on Friday. The decisions, taken during a cabinet meeting held at 5 PM today, came even as the Supreme Court was in the process of hearing the MVA’s arguments in a plea challenging the decision of the Governor to call for a floor test even as the disqualification proceedings against 16 rebel Sena MLAs was pending before the apex court.
Rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde has claimed the support of 39 out of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs, thus leaving the MVA way short of the majority-mark in the 288-member strong Maharashtra Assembly. Shinde and the rebel MLAs had attacked Thackeray for being in an “unnatural alliance” with the NCP and the Congress,
Earlier in the day, Governor BS Koshyari had sent a letter to the secretary of the state legislature. “There has been extensive coverage in the electronic and print media that 39 MLAs of the Shiv Sena Legislature Party have expressed their sincere desire and decision to exit the Maha Vikas Aghadi government,” the Governor wrote, while adding, “After having carefully gone through all the material available before me including the reports in electronic and print media. I am of the opinion that a floor test for proving the majority of the chief minister is imperative to ensure that the government continues to function with the confidence of the House.”