Power struggle, stalemate lead to president’s rule in Maharashtra

Combinations and permutations fail, Sena approaches apex court

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | November 13, 2019 | Mumbai


#Devendra Fadanvis   #NCP   #Congress   #Shiv Sena   #BJP   #assembly elections   #Maharashtra   #Politics   #Sharad Pawar  
Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan (Photo courtesy: Wiki/CreativeCommons)
Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan (Photo courtesy: Wiki/CreativeCommons)

Maharashtra has been placed under the president’s rule after the leading contenders failed to make a head start in government formation amid tussle for power.

Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari informed the president Tuesday that despite all efforts he did not see any possibility of government formation. Following the president’s recommendation, the home ministry then issued a statement that “the state legislature is in suspended animation.”

On Sunday after the BJP, the party with the most number of MLAs, expressed inability to form government, the governor asked the Shiv Sena, the second largest party, to come forward and give its reply by 7.30 pm on Monday.

The Sena on Monday told the governor that it could not get letters of support from rivals Congress- NCP as modalities and terms and conditions between them could not be worked out in a short span of time and sought extension for 48 hours. The governor refused to do so and turned to the NCP, the third largest party, to express its willingness and ability to form government by 8.30 pm on Tuesday. The NCP reportedly wrote a letter to the governor seeking extension of time to get the required numbers. The governor then recommended the president’s rule.

Hours later, addressing a press conference organised by the allies Congress and NCP, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel criticised the move to impose the president’s rule. He said that the union government had frequently violated the supreme court guidelines on the presidents rule during the last four-five years. Patel also said that the Congress was not given a chance to form government and the Sena formally approached Congress- NCP only on Monday. 

NCP chief Sharad Pawar said that now the governor had given them plenty of time and they are in no hurry to discuss further plans. Leaders of the two parties, Prithviraj Chavan, Jayant Patil, Mallikarjun Kharge, Praful Patel, Ajit Pawar, and KC Venugopal among others told reporters that they stay united. 

Later Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray told a press meet that the governor was “considerate” to give them six months’ time when they had asked for 48 hours to work out modalities with Congress-NCP. He said that the Sena had decades ago joined hands with the BJP due to the ideology of Hindutva. “Hindutva means Lord Ram. It also means keeping your promise. After being together for many years with BJP now Shiv Sena has to go with Congress- NCP and hold further talks with them. We will sit with them,” he said. He gave the examples of Mehbooba Mufti in Jammu and Kashmir, Nitish Kumar and Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar and N Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh who had joined hands, for government formation, with allies who had different ideologies. 

All parties said they needed more time to hold discussions and arrive at a consensus to finalize a common minimum programme. The Congress is said to be looking at two options: either it can have leadership in the state government or it can extend support from outside and bargain for seats in the Rajya Sabha. If it decides to be part of a ruling coalition it could decide for equal power sharing of ministerial berths and deputy chief minister’s post. The NCP may go for rotational chief ministership.  

The Shiv Sena was also planning to approach the supreme court for an urgent hearing challenging the governor’s decision of not allowing time extension to it to form government. The party, however, said on Wednesday that it would not mentioned the petition before the supreme court.

Advocate Sunil Fernandes, who had filed the petition on behalf of the Shiv Sena, said that the supreme court had asked them to mention the writ petition at 10.30 AM on Wednesday. The lawyer said another petition challenging the imposition of the president's rule was being readied.

Even as political stalemate between the two erstwhile ruling saffron allies continues, attempts to reconcile their differences are on.

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis of BJP said in a statement, “The president’s rule is unfortunate but we expect that Maharashtra will get stable government soon.” Narayan Rane, who has switched over from the Congress to the Sena and then to the BJP, said, “The BJP will try to form the government. Devendra Fadnavis is putting in all efforts in this direction. I think NCP and the Congress are trying to make a fool of Shiv Sena.” 

This is the third time that the president’s rule has been imposed in Maharashtra. In 1980, though the then chief minister, Sharad Pawar, had majority support in the assembly, the president’s rule was imposed for 112 days. In 2014 it was imposed for a period of 32 days when the then chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, resigned after the 15-year-old Congress-NCP alliance broke down.

Under Article 356 of the Constitution, the president’s rule can be imposed for six months to a maximum of three years with approval of parliament every six months.
 

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