Backing the Governor’s decision to invite the Shiv Sena to form the government, a Pune-based Constitutional expert said parties need to be called in order of their strength in the House.
“As the largest party, the BJP with 105 MLAs, has conveyed its inability to form the government, the Governor was left with no other option than to invite the second largest party the Shiv Sena, which has 56 MLAs,” Constitutional expert Ulhas Bapat said.
“The Sena will have to submit a list containing the names and signatures of MLAs supporting it. Actually, this is not mandatory. It is at the discretion of the Governor. The Sena can convey to the Governor that it has the numbers to prove majority on the floor of the House. After the Sena claims that it has the numbers, the Governor can install its chief minister and then ask it to prove majority,” Bapat said.
The Congress has 44 MLAs, NCP 54 and Shiv Sena 56 in the newly elected assembly. The Sena has been claiming that it has the support of 170 MLAs, including independents.
Bapat said there was also a precedent set by the then President K R Narayanan 20 years back when he had invited the largest group to form the government. “Narayanan had not invited the single largest party to form the government. Instead, he had asked a group of parties to prove majority in Parliament,” he said, adding that at that time the consideration of a stable government had dictated that choice.
Bapat said, as such, a combination of parties, in this case a Congress-led alliance, can also be invited by the Governor to form the government in case the Sena says it does not have the numbers or was not getting the required support from the Congress and NCP.
“The Congress-NCP can stake claim but for this, they will have to submit a letter of support from the Sena. Again this is not a rule…,” he said.
Yet another option is all three parties, Congress-NCP-Shiv Sena, together submit a letter, staking claim for forming the government. Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has not ruled out this possibility. “Now that the BJP has refused to stake claim, we are discussing the issue of extending support to the Sena. The final decision will be taken by the Congress high command,” Chavan said.
Bapat said after the BJP, which emerged as the largest party, the second largest party Sena gets the opportunity, then the NCP and finally the Congress. “If all these parties convey their inability to form the government, then the Governor can recommend to the President the need for imposing President’s rule under Article 356. This can be done by the Governor by conveying to the President ‘the failure of the constitutional machinery’,” he said.
Bapat said the Governor can exercise his discretion over the number of days that can be given to the appointed chief minister to prove his or her government’s majority. “Generally, it is about two weeks. But now the Supreme Court has said that two-four days can be allowed to prove majority. If it goes for a longer period, then it results in horse trading… in some cases, only two days have been given to prove majority,” he said.
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