After weeks of political wrangling, President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra on Tuesday, the first instance in the 59-year-old history of the state when Article 356 has been invoked due to inability of political parties to form a government after an assembly election.
Prior to the imposition of President’s rule, Shiv Sena moved the Supreme Court, challenging Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari’s refusal to grant an extension to the party to submit the letter of support from Congress and NCP. However, the top court did not accord urgent hearing today and will likely take up the matter on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, the Governor recommended to the Centre to declare President’s rule in the state, stating that formation of a stable government was impossible in the current situation despite all his efforts, drawing flak from Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena. Moments later, the President signed a proclamation imposing President’s rule in Maharashtra under Article 356(1).
The President’s rule can be revoked before the six-month period if a stable government is formed. In the 288-member Maharashtra assembly, the BJP emerged as the single largest party with 105 seats. The Shiv Sena, which was a BJP ally, garnered 56 seats while NCP and Congress got 54 and 44 seats respectively.
Will find a way to work together with NCP, Congress: Uddhav
Amid impasse over government formation, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray along with son Aaditya and senior party leaders met the newly elected party MLAs at Hotel Retreat in Malad. Hours after their meeting, Uddhav said despite Sena, NCP and Congress having different ideologies, the parties would find a way to work together.
“Yesterday we formally requested Congress-NCP for their support to form the government. We needed 48 hours, but the Governor didn’t give us time,” the Sena chief said.
Acknowledging former Sena MP Arvind Sawant’s decision to resign from the Union Cabinet, Uddhav said, “I would like to thank Arvind Sawant, many people have a lust for the ministerial post but he isn’t like that. Proud of him.”
#WATCH Mumbai: Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray reacts to a question ‘Is the BJP option completely finished?’. Says, “Why are you in such a hurry? It’s politics. 6 months time has been given (President’s Rule). I didn’t finish the BJP option, it was BJP itself which did that…” pic.twitter.com/3pew41hMuF
— ANI (@ANI) November 12, 2019
Sawant, the lone Sena MP in Modi’s Cabinet, had quit on Monday after accusing the BJP of going back on its its power-sharing promise in Maharashtra, thereby forcing the allies to snap ties. “They have also hurt my party by lying…. Since there is no trust left, I have decided to resign,” Sawant said.
Centre does not follow rules: Cong, NCP on President’s rule
Senior Congress leaders, including Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal, reached Mumbai earlier in the day to hold a meeting with NCP chief Sharad Pawar.
After the meeting that lasted 2.5 hours, NCP and Congress, in a joint statement, said they would further discuss the future strategy on the formation of the government. “Policies, programme have to be finalised before making a claim to form govt in Maharashtra” NCP chief Sharad Pawar said.
Both parties said that no headway had been made on supporting the Sena to form a government in the state. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said, “Before taking a decision on such an important matter we need to have a consultation with each other. A decision on talks with Sena will be taken once we have talks between ourselves.”
Criticising the Centre for imposing President’s rule even without inviting the party to stake claim to form government, Patel said, “The Centre does not follow rules. BJP, Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party got invitation from the Governor to prove majority. But Congress did not get an invitation. We condemn it,” Patel said.
Shiv Sena moves Supreme Court
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena has sought a direction from the Supreme Court to quash the Governor’s decision of not giving it the opportunity to prove majority on the floor of the House.
“The Supreme Court has asked us to mention the writ petition that we filed at 10.30 am on Wednesday before the court,” Advocate Sunil Fernandes, who filed the plea on behalf of Sena said.
In the petition, Sena claimed it was invited to form the government on Monday and had indicated its willingness to do so on Tuesday. The Governor’s decision is unconstitutional, discriminatory, unreasonable, capricious and mala fide, Sena said in the petition. It further said “the Governor can’t act in a manner to only suit the majority political party” at the Centre or act on the Central government’s “diktats”.
In the petition, the Sena contended that the Governor’s decision was violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. “It is ex facie arbitrary, unreasonable, capricious and mala fide exercise of power in order to ensure that Shiv Sena is precluded from getting a fair and reasonable opportunity of proving majority on the floor of the House,” the petition said.
In another fresh petition, Sena is likely to move the Supreme Court against the imposition of the President’s rule. “The decision on when to file it (fresh petition) will be taken tomorrow,” Fernandes said.