Maharashtra Government Formation: 162 MLAs Here, We Have Majority, Says Sharad Pawar; MLAs Take Oath
The BJP seems to have bitten more than what it can chew in Maharashtra. The political adventure that the saffron brigade undertook in the state in the cover of darkness may backfire on them. The Devendra Fadnavis government sworn in with the help of disgruntled NCP leader Ajit Pawar is on the last leg with most of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lawmakers scampering back home to party supremo Sharad Pawar.
If Fadnavis fails, it will be a big blow for the BJP and will only help in further cementing the fragile bonds between the NCP, Congress and the Shiv Sena. The resolve of the new alliance will only grow stronger to keep the BJP away from power, come what may.
But one cannot say which way the political ball will swing on Maharashtra’s quirky political pitch.
On Sunday, four BJP leaders were assigned to contact the Congress, Shiv Sena and the NCP MLAs before the floor test scheduled for November 30
The BJP leaders who have allegedly been handing the “Operation Lotus” in Maharashtra are Narayan Rane, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, Ganesh Naik, and Babanrao Pachpute, sources said. All the leaders have previously been the members of either Shiv Sena or the Congress or the NCP.
But all this may not pay off as there is suddenly an anti-BJP wave due to the way Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar ‘sneaked’ into Raj Bhavan and got themselves sworn in.
Trying to poach MLAs may not pay dividends and would only end up showing the BJP in poor light. The party’s new bonhomie with Ajit Pawar too has not gone down well with the people. The BJP had accused him of being the most corrupt leader in Maharashtra just a few weeks back and today he is the party’s trusted friend.
The best option for the BJP is to gracefully exit and allow the new combine of Sena-NCP-Congress to form a government. After all, this combination may not last long due to ideological differences and may collapse within a year.
Why is the BJP in a hurry trying to form a government? There seems to be no logical reasoning except that they are the largest single party in the Assembly. But with no friends, this number has no meaning. It is better to sit in opposition than assuming power through tainted means.
Meanwhile, Ajit Pawar did today try to sow some seeds of doubt in the minds of the NCP lawmakers. Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s congratulatory message after he was sworn-in as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar on Sunday assured him of a stable government in the state.
Immediately his uncle and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said there was no question of forming an alliance with BJP in Maharashtra.
Ajit Pawar’s remarks also signaled that he had spurned all efforts by Sharad Pawar to persuade him to resign from the deputy chief minister’s post.
Trying to stir another confusion, Ajit Pawar tweeted that he was still with the NCP and Sharad Pawar was the leader. “I am in the NCP and shall always be in the NCP and Sharad Pawar saheb is our leader. There is absolutely no need to worry, all is well. However, a little patience is required. Thank you very much for all your support.”.
Sharad Pawar said Ajit’s statement was misleading and aimed at creating confusion.
“There is no question of forming an alliance with BJP. NCP has unanimously decided to ally with Shiv Sena and Congress to form the government. Ajit Pawar’s statement is false and misleading in order to create confusion and false perception among the people,” Sharad Pawar said.
Earlier on Sunday, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to place before it by Monday 10.30 am the 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.
However, the three-judge bench, headed by Justice N V Ramana and comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, did not grant any interim relief to the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress combine to direct the Fadnavis government to undertake floor test within 24 hours.
The court has asked for the following documents:
(i) the letter written by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari recommending the revocation of President’s Rule and inviting Devendra Fadnavis to form the government, and
(ii) the letter that Fadnavis submitted to the Governor to demonstrate that he has majority support among the MLAs.
To revoke President’s Rule, the government has used a special Section in the Union government’s Transaction of Business Rules, which allows for revocation of President’s Rule without Cabinet approval if the Prime Minister “deems it necessary”.
Titled “Departure from Rules”, Rule 12 says, “The Prime Minister may, in case or classes of cases permit or condone a departure from these rules, to the extent he deems necessary.”
The Cabinet can subsequently give post-facto approval for any decision taken under Rule 12.
Rule 12 is usually not used to arrive at major decisions by the government. However, it has been used in matters such as the withdrawal of an office memorandum or the signing of MoUs in the past.
The last big decision taken through the invocation of Rule 12 was re-organization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh on October 31.
The invocation of Rule 12 would appear to indicate that even top leaders in the BJP were not aware of the impending move. Many top ministers were, in fact, out of Delhi, and were not available for a Cabinet meeting.