Maharashtra is facing an unprecedented political crisis. Its state election results came out more than a month ago, but the four largest parties (BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena, and NCP) have been unable to form an acceptable Government till date. In a dramatic turn of events last Saturday, BJP and factions of NCP hurriedly formed a Government in the wee hours of Saturday — after the interim President’s rule was revoked unilaterally by the governor. BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis and NCP’s Ajit Pawar were sworn in as Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister, respectively. Outraged, the other parties have now approached the Supreme Court “for justice.”
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Here’s how it all went down. On 24th October, the Maharashtra state election results were announced. It seemed that the BJP-Shiv Sena “Maha Yuti” alliance was all set to form the Government, with 165 out of the available 288 seats. However, the post-election power sharing conversations apparently went awry, with Shiv Sena pulling out of the alliance in the first week of November — leaving BJP without enough seats to form the Government. With no solution in sight, a temporary President’s rule was then imposed on the state. (Quick recap: In India, President’s rule is the suspension of state Government and imposition of direct central Government rule in a state.)
Now, after almost a month of discussions, when it seemed that Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress had almost certainly arrived at a power sharing agreement, BJP pulled a “late-night coup”, changing the story overnight. The ball, it seems, is now with the Supreme Court.
“A day after being jolted by the BJP’s early morning ‘coup’ in Maharashtra, the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP were in consolidation mode Sunday evening with most of its MLAs being shifted into hotels to avoid horse-trading. The BJP, on its part, adopted a wait and watch approach.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place before it on Monday morning the letters of the governor recommending revocation of President’s Rule and inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form government in Maharashtra.
“If they believe they have the support of the House, they must be directed to prove it today itself. If they have the numbers, they must prove it or allow us to prove the majority,” Sibal said, while maintaining that the combine has the support of 145 MLAs, which is the magic number in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly. Detailing the sequence of events, Sibal said that the pre-poll alliance of BJP-Shiv Sena broke down after the declaration of election result and the current situation involves a post-poll alliance of three parties Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress which were holding deliberation on government formations.
“On 22 November, at 7 pm, a press conference was held wherein we say that Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress have agreed on a Common Minimum Programme and we are going to stake our claim to form government which will be headed by Uddhav Thackeray. What happened thereafter was bizarre,” he said. Sibal added that it appears there was some “national emergency” as without any Cabinet meeting the President’s Rule in Maharashtra was revoked at 5.17 am.”
NCP supremo, Sharad Pawar, on the other hand, strongly ruled out the possibility of any alliance with BJP — even after defecting politician Ajit Pawar’s reassurance that he was still with NCP.
“NCP supremo Sharad Pawar maintained Ajit Pawar’s statement was misleading and aimed at creating confusion while categorically rejecting having any truck with BJP. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who held a meeting with Sena and NCP MLAs at the Renaissance Hotel alongside Sharad Pawar, said, “Don’t worry, this (NCP-Sena) relationship will last long. We are going to form the government (in Maharashtra).”
So, what now?
All eyes are now on the apex court, which will probably announce a floor test to be held soon. However, all bets are off regarding its outcome.
Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.