Maharashtra: As Fadnavis gets 24-hour breather, NCP-Sena-Cong combine parades 162 MLAs

Our Bureaus New Delhi/Pune | Updated on November 25, 2019

Shiv Sena MLAs being ferried from The Lalit Hotel to Lemon Tree Premier Hotel in Mumbai on Monday, amid the high political drama around government formation n Maharashtra   -  -

Supreme Court to pronounce order on govt formation today; high drama in Parliament

Hours after the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the Congress told the Supreme Court on Monday that they had the requisite number to prove their majority in the Maharashtra Assembly, the newly-cobbled alliance gathered an estimated 162 MLAs in Mumbai as a show of strength to bolster their claim to form the government in the State.

While the apex court will pronounce its order on government-formation in Maharashtra on Tuesday, the competing claims of two alliances —– the BJP with an NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar, and the Sena-NCP-Congress — played out dramatically in Parliament and the streets of Mumbai.

24-hour breather

The newly sworn-in Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and his Deputy Ajit Pawar got a 24-hour breather with the Supreme Court reserving its decision on the early morning revocation of the President’s rule on Saturday and the Governor’s decision to invite the BJP and Ajit Pawar to form the government.

In Parlament, the Opposition parties’ protests over Maharashtra developments paralysed both the Houses. In the Lok Sabha, Marshals were called out to remove two protesting Congress MPs — Hibi Eden and T N Prathapan — both of whom alleged that they had been up roughed and “manhandled”. The disruptions are likely to continue with most Oopposition parties having decided to boycott President Ramnath Kovind’s Tuesday’s address in the Central Hall of Parliament to mark the Constitution Day.

The Congress claimed “murder of democracy” in Maharashtra and pledged to continue its protest. “President Kovind is supposed to protect and uphold the Constitution. But he became a tool in the hands of the BJP. So, we cannot sit at a programme where he is speaking on the Constitution,” said senior Congress MP Kodikkunnil Suresh.

The Maharashtra drama

The BJP is the single largest party with 105 MLAs in the 288-member Maharashtra Assembly followed by the Shiv Sena (56), the NCP (54) and the Congress (44). The Sena broke its three-decade-long ties with the BJP after the latter declined to share the Chief Minister’s post leading to the Centre imposing President’s rule in the State.

The President’s rule was revoked in a sudden move in the wee hours of Saturday and the Governor invited the BJP’s Fadnavis to form the government with support from an NCP faction led by Ajit Pawar.

Since then, Sharad Pawar has gathered his flock and the NCP chief now claims that his nephew, Ajit Pawar, only has the support of only three MLAs including himself (Ajit). The Sena-NCP-Congress combine has since submitted its claim to form the government to the Governor and demanded an immediate floor test in the Assembly.

Speaking to reporters in Karad, Sharad Pawar said his nephew’s decision to split was “his alone” and that he did not have the support of the party as he had claimed to the BJP. Ajit Pawar was leader of the NCP’s Legislature Party when he decided to support the BJP, but has since been summarily sacked from the party.

Ajit Pawar ‘exonerated’

In the meantime, there was much commotion over the Maharashtra Anti-Corruption Bureau decision to close the probe in nine cases of alleged corruption in irrigation projects in the State. As a minister in the erstwhile Congress-NCP government, Ajit Pawar had handled water resources among other portfolios and these cases pertain to that period although the ACB claimed they did not relate to the NCP rebel.

The Congress alleged that Ajit Pawar had been “exonerated” as a quid pro quo for his support to the BJP in forming a government two days ago.

More reports p10

Published on November 25, 2019

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