Supreme Court to Centre: Produce letters of Maharashtra Governor, Fadnavis

Our Bureau New Delhi/Pune | Updated on November 24, 2019

No immediate floor test; parties strain to keep flock together

Parties strained to keep their flock together as the Supreme Court, in an unprecedented hearing on Sunday, fixed a 10-30 am deadline on Monday for the Centre to produce letters of Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inviting Devendra Fadnavis and of the BJP leader staking his claim to form the government in the State.

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said the plea of post-poll alliance, ‘Maha Vikas Aghadi’, to get Fadnavis to prove his majority by a floor test within 24 hours could not be considered till both letters were examined.

The prayer by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance for a direction to the Governor to invite them to form the government under Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was also not considered.

Notice issued

The Bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, issued notices to the Centre, the Maharashtra government, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on the plea filed by the combine seeking quashing of the Governor’s November 23 order inviting the BJP leader to form the government.

“As adjudication of the issues and also the interim prayers sought by the petitioners to conduct a floor test within 24 hours has to be considered after perusing the order of the Governor as well as the letters submitted by Devendra Fadnavis even though none appeared for the State government, we request Tushar Mehta (Solicitor-General) to produce those two letters by tomorrow 10.30 am when the matter will be taken up, so that appropriate order will be passed,” the Bench said.

Two top Congress leaders, Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Shiv Sena, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, arguing for the NCP, submitted that the way President’s rule was revoked at 5.17 am was “bizarre” as no Cabinet meeting was held.

The BJP had previously argued that there is nothing untoward in the process revoking the President’s rule or the Governor inviting Fadnavis to form the government with the now-expelled NCP leader Ajit Pawar. “All decisions have been taken after due process of law. There is a provision for ex-post facto approval of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister has special powers. Everything is in order,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had told media on Saturday.

Ground for horse-trading

Leaders of the NCP, the Shiv Sena and the Congress said they were eager for a floor test to prove their majority in the Assembly. NCP State President Jayant Patil claimed that NCP MLAs are with the party and efforts are on to bring Ajit Pawar back. He met Ajit Pawar in Mumbai.

MLAs of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP are put up in Mumbai hotels and the Shiv Sena cadre is keeping a watch on them.

BJP leaders, on their part, are confident of proving majority with the help of Ajit Pawar and his MLAs. Ajit Pawar seemed unwavering in his support when he thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi by a tweet saying, “Thank you Hon. Prime Minister @narendramodiji. We will ensure a stable Government that will work hard for the welfare of the people of Maharashtra”.

NCP President Sharad Pawar on Saturday said his nephew may have misused the party’s internal letter, signed by 54 MLAs, and misled the Governor by stating that all NCP MLAs were ready to support the BJP in forming the government.

The NCP has claimed that since Saturday, from among 11 NCP MLAs who were with Ajit Pawar when he was sworn-in as Fadnavi’s deputy, six have returned to the party and only five, including Ajit Pawar, are with the BJP.

Senior Congress leader Vijay Wadettiwar told media that not a single MLA from the party will split. “We are united and confident that we will be able to defeat the BJP on the floor of the House” he said. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut claimed that the Sena, NCP and Congress have 165 MLAs and if the Governor calls for an identification parade, they can “prove majority in 10 minutes”.


Published on November 24, 2019

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