WITH Devendra Fadnavis on Friday being asked to continue as the caretaker chief minister of Maharashtra, all eyes are now on Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
A source in Raj Bhavan said Fadnavis will continue as the caretaker CM as long as the Governor wishes. “There is no deadline for him to hand over the charge. He serves at the pleasure of the Governor.”
While the existing Legislative Assembly will cease to exist post November 9, legal experts noted that there is no binding that the government should be in place by Saturday.
Sources said the Governor is expected to go as per an order of preference set out in the Sarkaria Commission recommendations, which have also been ratified by the Supreme Court. By the order of preference, the Governor can invite 1) a pre-poll alliance of parties; 2) invite the single largest party which stakes a claim to form government; 3) invite a post-poll alliance of parties, with all the partner in the coalition joining the government or 4) invite a post-poll alliances of parties, with some becoming part of the government and some supporting from outside.
The BJP, which is the single largest party with 105 of the 288 seats in the Assembly, had the first chance to stake claim. But on Friday, since it expressed its inability to muster the magic number of 145 seats, the road is now open for other parties to step in and try to prove majority in the House.
However, if still no party is able to form a government, Koshyari could recommend President’s Rule, which could continue for three years subject to approval from Parliament every six months. According to legal experts, Koshyari would first need to exhaust all options and possibilities of government formation before making any such recommendation. The last resort will be to hold mid-term polls.
A source in the state law and judiciary department said, “Any party that can muster the requisite numbers can be called for government formation. The BJP, which has 105 seats, will require additional support of 40 MLAs to form the government. Of the total 29 Independent MLAs and legislators from smaller parties, the BJP has support of 15. It is still 25 MLAs short.”
Another possibility being talked about is Shiv Sena, with its 56 MLAs, coming together with Congress (44) and NCP (54) to from a government with 154 MLAs, the source added. Till now, both parties have dropped hints that they would be willing to prop up a government formed by Sena if needed.